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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Sept. 8, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Texas Legislature Congress | Federal TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Privatization | Vouchers

Date Posted: 9/08/2023

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

PAXTON: The impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) began Tuesday in the Texas Senate, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) presiding over votes on various motions submitted by the defense team in an effort to dismiss the case. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave discusses the proceedings in this blog post. The Texas Tribune is providing live updates and has outlined the articles of impeachment here

RECAPTURE: Last week, Spring Branch ISD, considered by the state school finance system to be property wealthy, voted to ban district staff from sending the state more than $200 million in recapture. The board members cited the state’s failure to ensure that the school finance system, including recapture, adequately sets funding at the level districts, including their own, need to be able to run schools. Christy Rome of the Texas School Coalition tells us a little more about recapture in this blog post.   

From left: Brenda Bryan, Hale Center ATPE; U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX-19); and Abigail Ramford, Lamesa ATPE

HR 5342: ATPE announced its support of HR 5342, the “Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2023” (ETPSA), bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX-19) to bring relief from the negative impact the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) continues to have on educators, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees.  

Rep. Arrington held a press conference in Lubbock Thursday, Sept. 7, to discuss the ETPSA and was joined by ATPE members Abigail Ramford and Brenda Bryan along with other public servants who would be positively affected by the legislation.  

Similar to ATPE-supported legislation introduced in the past several Congresses by now-retired Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, this legislation replaces the WEP with a new proportional formula that would increase Social Security payments for most retirees otherwise penalized by the WEP. Some retirees would see as much as a $400 or more per month increase in their Social Security benefit. This newest version of the ETPSA improves upon the previous bill by extending the “hold-harmless” provision to age 18 at the time of passage (versus 21 in the prior legislation). The new provision will ensure more retirees receive the better of the WEP or the new proportional formula, further protecting the very small percentage of retirees who would otherwise receive a slightly higher benefit under the current formula.   

Read ATPE’s full press release here.     

VOUCHERS: Grassroots organization Texans for Public Education (T4PE) is hosting an anti-voucher rally ahead of an anticipated special session on private school vouchers. As legislators saw in hearings and heard from constituents throughout the legislative session, Texans are strongly against taxpayer-funded vouchers, which means taking funding from public schools and diverting it to private schools without accountability. The rally will take place at the State Capitol from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7. 

TEXAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR: TASA announced Tuesday, Sept. 5, that six educators from across Texas had been chosen as finalists in the 2024 Texas Teacher of the Year program, including ATPE members and elementary educators Dr. Isela Russell (Wellington Elementary School, Lewisville ISD) and Taniece Thompson-Smith (Stafford Elementary School, Abilene ISD). Congratulations, Dr. Russell and Ms. Thompson-Smith!

PARENTAL NOTIFICATION: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced it had amended the Texas Education Code by adding Section §37.1131 (effective September 1, 2023), which requires each school system to adopt a policy for providing notice regarding violent activity on school grounds or at a school system-sponsored activity. Each school system’s policy must include electronic notification, provide an option for real-time notification, and protect student privacy. Read more on the TEA website

TEACHER TAX BREAK BILL: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) reintroduced a bill this week that would boost teachers’ deduction of out-of-pocket classroom expenses to $1,000. The limit on the deduction is $300 for the 2023 tax year. The bill has support from over a half dozen Democrats and one independent in the Senate. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House by Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) this week. Read the full press release here.


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