Education has been the buzzword around your Capitol this past week. From increasing school funding, to taking care of our retired teachers, the Texas House has taken decisive action on fulfilling our commitment to making meaningful improvements to the education system here in Texas. As hearings continue and proposals are discussed, I can’t help but marvel at the work that both our active and retired teachers do for our state. I hope you’ll take time in the near future to hug the neck of a teacher and thank them for their dedicated public service and commitment to our young people. With that said, here’s an update on what’s happening in Austin…
The Texas House voted 134-16 to approve House Bill 21, a bill that would provide additional per-student funding for more than 95 percent of Texas school districts. It would also reduce the amount of local tax dollars that school districts send to other parts of the state and make necessary upgrades to the funding formulas that determine how education dollars are distributed to districts statewide. I’d also like to highlight an amendment my colleagues and I added to the bill which would repeal the funding penalty associated with school districts which have less than 1,600 students and fewer than 300 square miles. In my district alone, this amendment would benefit over 18 school districts without negatively impacting larger districts. This amendment is the byproduct of a bill that I have filed the last two sessions to address this 30-year old inequity in our smaller schools. Updating our antiquated school finance formulas is a priority for the House leadership this session, and I am pleased to have supported this bill which, while certainly not perfect, makes significant progress toward fixing a broken system.
As many of you know, I served on the Joint Committee on TRS-Care Health Benefits where I voiced my concerns about the health plan options available to retired teachers. I am pleased to announce that the Legislature will have an opportunity to address these concerns through a piece of legislation I am carrying, HB 3976. While this bill contains a number of structural changes to TRS-Care, perhaps the most notable component is the additional commitment the state is making to limit the financial burden placed on our retired teachers. This bill is supported by the Texas Retired Teachers Association and was voted unanimously out of the House Appropriations Committee. I anticipate it will be brought to the House floor in the near future, then hopefully head to the Senate for their consideration.
The mobile office continues to be on the road in April and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here’s this month’s remaining schedule: April 26th from 9am – 11am at the San Augustine Courthouse in San Augustine. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.