AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved a $3.2 billion supplemental pay package for teachers as part of a constitutional amendment proposal they hope to send to the voters this November.
The plan would provide a $2,000 check for full-time classroom teachers in districts with more than 20,000 students and a $6,000 check for teachers in districts with fewer than 20,000 students.
The plan came as a last-minute amendment to the Senate’s $18 billion property tax relief plan.
“We need to do something that takes care of homeowners, takes care of teachers, and gets us out of the Capitol so that people can have some certainty as they go into the fall,” said State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, who proposed the amendment. “The governor is playing politics with people’s pocketbooks. Texans all over the state are in pain, and they have trouble paying the bills and trouble making ends meet.”
“320K Texas teachers will get a 2-for-1 with the $100k homestead exemption and supplemental pay,” State. Sen. Paul Bettencourt tweeted Thursday.
The money would come as a welcome relief for teachers whose hopes of a pay raise were quashed by inaction in the regular legislative session.
“Our school districts came into this legislative session, kind of fighting double-digit inflation, not even having the same purchasing power as they did a few years ago. So helping support our teachers is a great first step.,” Bob Popinski with Raise Your Hand Texas said.
“Texans need and deserve for the legislature to provide our state’s educators with a significant, permanent, pay raise, but in the meantime, we are grateful for the addition of a one-time ‘thank you’ bonus as a part of SJ1,” Monty Exter, government relations director for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said.
In addition to a tangible benefit for teachers, the amendment was also a savvy political move to forge consensus with the Texas House after months of intractable disagreements over property tax relief.
“We need to move the ball on what is a homeowner’s exemption we’ve never seen before in Texas – $100,000. We’ve got some differences in the house. So we needed to have something to get them to ‘yes,’ so I came up with this idea,” Sen. Gutierrez said.