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What’s happening in the Legislature this week? Expect a bill to be filed addressing teacher pay

Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

As lawmakers wait for committee assignments to be handed down, bills are still being filed this legislative session.

This week, Round Rock Democrat James Talarico plans to file a bill to raise teacher salaries amid an ongoing teacher shortage.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, who reports on the Capitol for the Texas Newsroom, said that while details are still to come on the bill, Talarico introduced a similar piece of legislation in 2021.

“This is something important for Representative Talarico,” said Martínez-Beltrán, noting the lawmaker is a former educator. “In 2021, he introduced a bill that would have made the minimum salary for teachers to be $70,000, but that didn’t go anywhere. But I think, again, we might see similar efforts by others to try to get teachers raises.”

The average starting pay for teachers in Texas is a little more than $44,500 a year statewide.

Martínez-Beltrán said that in the budget proposals that came out of both chambers last week, lawmakers noted their intention to increase funding for public and charter schools.

“Some of the possible strategies include allocating money to raise the salaries and benefits of teachers. But again, that’s just a possibility. Anything can happen. There’s not a lot of details yet,” he said. “I’ve talked to education advocates who have talked about how the Legislature should also consider increasing the basic allotment, which is the per-pupil funding. That formula has remained unchanged since 2019. Inflation is a real thing, and experts say that increasing that basic allotment would actually give automatic pay raises to teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors.”

Martínez-Beltrán said education funding is only one priority for the state’s $33 billion surplus. Other priorities include reducing property taxes and putting money toward school safety.

“We are seeing that school safety is arguably one of the areas that the Legislature would like to spend some money on,” he said. “For example, the budget draft allocates $600 million to the Texas Education Agency to help school districts in implementing school safety initiatives. Also, the Legislature has vowed, based on this budget draft, to increase public education funding.”

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the average starting pay for teachers in Texas.

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Sarah Asch