Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Texas AFT :This (Last) Week in The Legislature: More Questions ... - Texas AFT

The last full week of the Texas legislative session ended with final decisions being made on several important pieces of legislation, but going into the session’s final weekend, major bills relating to school finance, private school vouchers, pensions for retired educators, the future of higher education, and more are still undecided.

Public Education: Vouchers Make a Comeback, School Finance Bill in Limbo

The last week of session started with a surprise hearing by the Senate Education Committee. With less than 24 hours notice, the Senate Education Committee scheduled a hearing on House Bill 100, the school finance bill by Chairman Ken King (R-Canadian). The bill was originally intended to increase school funding and provide raises to teachers, but the Texas Senate hijacked the bill to include a private school voucher.

While the version of HB 100 that was passed by the House would have raised the basic allotment by $90 per student next year, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), replaced the bill with entirely different language, installing a voucher similar to the one included in SB 8, the voucher bill that the Senate passed in April.

Despite an effort by House leadership over the last few weeks of the legislative session to water down the voucher in SB 8 and also use the bill as a vehicle to update the state’s standardized testing requirements to make it more palatable, SB 8 died last week after it failed to be voted out of...

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