Texas Legislative Updates
A Texas House Appropriations Panel gave tentative approval to a spending plan that includes $17 billion for local school property tax cuts and a two-year freeze on state college tuition. The budget also includes $5 billion for public schools, though it’s unclear how the money will be allocated. If passed, House Bill 1 would add over $3 billion in spending on mental and behavioral health across various agencies and an additional $3.5 billion for retired teachers, including a cost of living increase and a $5,000 supplemental payment for retirees aged 70 and over. The proposal should make it to the House Floor by the first week of April.
Chairman Brandon Creighton requested a legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton on whether public education funding can be used for tuition costs at private religious schools. The request could affect Senate Bill 8, which would give families up to $8,000 in taxpayer money per student to pay for private schooling through education savings accounts.
- The Senate Education Committee’s virtual education bill was withdrawn from last week’s hearing and should be posted in a few weeks.
Days until the 88th Texas Legislative Session Sine Die: 70 (May 29, 2023)
TEA & State Updates
- The Texas Education Agency is set to replace the locally-elected Houston ISD board of trustees over low student performance and misconduct allegations. Here is what happens when Texas takes over a school district like Houston ISD.
- Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath met with lawmakers to discuss the state’s takeover of the Houston ISD. The takeover will begin in June despite pushback from Democratic leaders, including Mayor Sylvester Turner and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
- The Texas Education Agencywill host four community meetings to address the state’s takeover of Houston ISD:
- March 21 at 6:30 pm at Westbury High School
- March 22 at 6:30 pm at Chavez High School
- March 29 at 6:30 pm at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center
- March 30 at 6:30 pm at Kashmere High School
DOE & National Updates
- The House Education and the Workforce Committee passed two bills now heading to the House Floor for a full vote. H.R. 734 aims to prevent biological boys and men from participating in athletic programs designated for girls or women, while H.R. 5 would give parents more authority over educational decisions and add requirements for school systems to ensure parental engagement. Committee Democrats argued that these bills distract from student academic recovery, mental health support, and access to free school meals.
- A conservative wing of the U.S. House announced its intention to roll spending back to 2019 levels and cancel President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. If Speaker Kevin McCarthy agrees to their demands, it will eliminate most of the administration’s education budget requests, including a $2.2 billion increase for schools serving poor students and $.5 billion to address student mental health needs. On the other hand, the Biden administration wants to raise the $31.4 trillion debt limit to avoid what most economists anticipate would be a global economic crisis.
Articles of Interest
- Half of private school voucher tax credits go to families making above $200K
- Tutoring help reaches few students despite a nationwide push
- Equal Pay Day? Not for teachers. Why men make more than women in a female-dominated field
- March 21 – House Public Education Hearing – Agenda
- March 22 – Senate Education Hearing – Agenda
- April 11-14 – SBOE Meeting
- April 28 – SBEC Meeting
- May 29 – Last Day of Regular Session
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