The Legislature adjourned at the end of May without increasing teacher pay or improving school
working conditions, observers say. Instead of improving Texas schools, “both sides were arguing two different plans for cutting property taxes,” said the Texas American Federation of Teachers on its website.
The Senate and the House bickered over whether to increase the basic allotment, the per-student amount the state pays schools. The House wanted $90, but the Senate said $50, tops. And in the end, neither was approved. The effort died after the Senate tried to attach a private school-voucher scheme.
This at a time when the state boasts a $32.7 billion surplus.
“With a historic surplus, the state budget made minuscule investments in public education,” said state Rep Vikki Goodwin. “Our schools are struggling. We must make necessary investments to keep them afloat.”
If Texas’ budget surplus were distributed directly to Texans, it could pay for 12 years of school lunches, seven months of rent or 11,000 miles of travel, according to the Texas Tribune.
Gov Greg Abbot said he intended to push private school vouchers in a special session. Speculation is that he will call the session in September, when teachers return to the busy early days of school.
When it comes to state spending on education, Texas trails the national average by over $4,000 per student, earning our state an F-rating and ranking 42nd in the nation in per-student spending, according to Raise Your Hands Texas, an advocacy group for better education.
In red states, public education funding is a race to the bottom.