In a unanimous vote, very rare for a major issue in the Texas Senate, Senators voted last night to approve an across the boartd $5,000 pay raise for every public school teacher in the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
In fact, the entire Senate signed on an an 'author' of the bill, which shows the support that Senators have for the bill.
State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), says the strong vote shows the commitment that lawmakers have in the 2019 session for public schools.
"Our base budget adds $6 billion to public education, and the bulk of that is going to teachers," Nelson said.
The teacher pay bill has been listed as a priority by Gov. Abbott, which is how it was able to rush through the Senate so quickly. Most of the bills introduced in the 2019 session haven't even made it to committee yet.
Nelson says the problem with teacher pay is threatening the state's economy, as qualified teachers leave the classroom.
"Nearly one in three new teachers hired in 2012 completely had left the profession in five years," she said. "We have got to reverse that trend."
Democrats supported extending the raises to school librarians, nurses, and counselors. The librarians must have the strongest lobby, because Nelson agreed to extend the raises to them, but not to the other groups.
"It adds librarians to the $5,000 pay raise, which increases the fiscal note by $58 million," she said.'
'Fiscal note' is lege-speak for the cost of a bill to taxpayers. Much of the money for this proposal is going to come from the state's booming economy, especially oil and gas severance fees, which the State Comptroller has said give lawmakers a significant cushion to work with in budgeting.
The bill now goes to the House, where Speaker Dennis Bonnen favors providing the money to local school districts to spend as they choose, rather than earmarking it all for teacher raises. There is also support in the House for adding the neglected nurses and counselors to the pay raise, which would require that the bill return to the Senate.