On Tuesday night, the Texas House added 10 priority amendments to Senate Bill 9, the Senate’s education priority bill and passed second reading with 116 ayes and 24 nays.
This appears to be backlash from the House, after the Senate added a last-minute voucher amendment to their school finance bill, House Bill 100. Which also passed not only second reading but third reading on Tuesday night, with 18 ayes and 13 nays.
If SB 9 passes the third reading, both bills will be negotiated in conference committee to hash out the differences between both chambers.
Following its second reading on the House floor tonight, SB9, underwent several amendments, some of those addressed increasing the basic allotment, increasing special ed funding, adding a fine arts allotment, etc.
During the hearing, Rep. James Talarico said: “it’s unconscionable during the worst teacher shortage the state has ever seen that the Senate would hold hostage pay raises for teachers to pass their voucher program.”
And Rep. Gina Hinojosa said teachers are “super-humans” that deserve teacher pay raise without having to “jump through hoops” to obtain it. Congratulating Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer’s amendment that would increase the basic allotment by $1,000 by 2025, without teachers having to meet certain criteria to obtain it.
In general, there seemed to be a lot of tension towards the Senate as Representatives took to the podium to add their priorities to the Senate bill. Rep. Harold Dutton, who sponsored the bill was lamenting that his bill to boost teacher retention/recruitment had not moved in the Senate, claiming that chamber instead sent over their own bill.
“I don’t believe the Senate respects us,” he said. “I don’t know why the Senate chose to send this bill over here when it’s substantively almost exactly the same… they wanted for this to be a Senate bill as opposed to a House bill.”
HB 100 would also increase teacher pay, raising the required state funding percentage for teacher raises from 30% to 50%, allowing the rest to be used for other school expenses. It updates the base salary scale for teachers based on experience and incorporates provisions from other bills to address the state’s teacher shortage.
HB100 also includes a top priority item for Gov. Greg Abbott, a voucher-like program that would offer up to $8,000 in taxpayer money per student each year for parents who choose to opt out of the public school system, with funds eligible for private schooling expenses, textbooks, and tutoring.
During the hearing, Sen. Nathan Johnson, tried to stop vouchers from passing, adding an amendment that would strip the ESA’s provision from the bill because he said there were a lot of things in it he liked, in the end it failed.
“Education savings accounts are likely to kill the whole bill,” he said.