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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Jan. 20, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Texas Legislature Privatization | Vouchers Educator Compensation | Benefits

Date Posted: 1/20/2023

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

VOUCHERS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) took advantage of an otherwise low-key inauguration ceremony Tuesday to reiterate that private school vouchers will be at the top of their legislative agendas.

Patrick emphasized the two were “all in” on passing legislation that would defund local public schools in order to subsidize tuition to elite private and for-profit schools, most of which are located in the city’s major metropolitan areas. Patrick openly conceded that rural communities were unlikely to see any additional “choice” options despite sacrificing local funding to finance a voucher proposal. Read more in this post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

BUDGET: The Texas House and Senate filed their respective budget proposals this week for the 2024-2025 fiscal biennium. Both House Bill (HB) 1 and Senate Bill (SB) 1 would spend around $130 billion in state funds without touching the $32.7 billion surplus left over from the previous budget cycle.

Both bills include $15 billion earmarked for some form of property tax relief, as well as language indicating support for giving educators a pay raise. The House budget also explicitly calls for increasing school funding The language is vague in all of these cases, leaving legislators plenty of room to determine whether and how to make any of the proposals a reality.

The budget is the only bill the Texas Legislature is constitutionally required to pass. Lawmakers must pass a budget within the 140 days of the regular session or return in a summer special session to finish the job. Read more in this article by The Texas Tribune.

Related: Did you know ATPE members have access to tools for tracking the progress of bills and communicating with their elected officials? Check out the great features of ATPE’s Advocacy Central today. (ATPE member login is required.)

PODCAST: As legislators debate the state budget and other top issues this session, ATPE’s lobby team will be advocating for our legislative priorities that include improving school safety, promoting educator recruitment and retention, increasing retirement benefits, preventing private school vouchers, and more. In the latest episode of The ATPE Podcast, Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter and Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins break down the issues facing public education today and what to watch in the 88th legislative session.

ATPEATPE members are encouraged to register for ATPE at the Capitol, our political involvement training and lobby day event held during each legislative session. Taking place Feb. 20-21 at the Austin Marriott Downtown and the Texas State Capitol, ATPE at the Capitol includes training sessions, visits with legislators, a Q&A with a panel of legislators, and more. Invited panelists this year are Sens. José Menéndez (D–San Antonio) and Angela Paxton (R–McKinney), plus Reps. James Talarico (D–Round Rock) and Ken King (R–Canadian).

There is no registration fee for ATPE members to attend ATPE at the Capitol, but time is running out to register. The last day to reserve hotel rooms is Thursday, Jan. 26. Online event registration will close Feb. 10. Learn more and register at atpe.org/aatc.

In conjunction with ATPE at the Capitol, we’re also hosting a fundraising event for ATPE-PAC on the evening of Feb. 20. Optional tickets to the “PAC’s Peak Ski Lodge” add-on event for ATPE members are on sale now for $40 with all proceeds benefiting ATPE’s political action committee.*

*ATPE solicits PAC contributions only from ATPE members, employees, and their families. Participation in ATPE-PAC is voluntary. Please do not print or forward PAC solicitations using school district resources.


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