Rather than advancing House Bill 2, the proposed school legislation, the Senate crafted and passed its own bill, Senate Bill 5. This proposed measure is designed to allocate over $800 million over the next five years, establishing a robust school safety grant program.
The intended purpose is to fortify existing safety measures mandated by House Bill 3, acknowledging the concerns voiced by shool districts about the financial strain imposed by unfunded mandates. Despite House Bill 2 securing unanimous approval in the House on Nov. 20, it awaits Senate action with a mere five days remaining in the session.
SB5, introduced by Sen. Joan Huffman, doubles the per student allotment from $10 per student to $20 and the amount per campus from $15,000 to $30,000. The bill also provides $400 million to fund the school safety grant program and $400 million to the allotment increase.
This financial infusion builds upon the substancial $1.4 billion previously allocated by the legislature for school safety during the regular session in May. Notably, $1.1 billion of that allocation was directed toward grants aimed at fortifying schools, while the remaining $300 million was earmarked for increasing the school safety allotemnet, as reported by KTSM.
However, as of this afternoon Speaker Phelan’s office stated to the Dallas Morning news: “The Senate now proposes an entirely new bill with only four days left of session – knowing full well there is not enough time to get it passed and sent to the governor’s desk – in a cynical attempt to appear serious about adequately funding school safety while blaming the House for its inaction.”
The House currently “Stands at ease” with rumors that they may not be back until Tuesday, with the special session ending on Wednesday.