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Rep. Ken King (R–Canadian) questions the budget's $500 million voucher allotment.

Voucher dies as final weekend of 88th Legislature brings conflict between House and Senate

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Retirement | TRS | Social Security Texas Legislature Privatization | Vouchers Educator Compensation | Benefits

Date Posted: 5/30/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

The final weekend of the 88th Legislature was filled with last-minute efforts to get legislation through in the hope of avoiding a special session, all in the shadow of the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), which took up valuable time Saturday as conference committee reports were being filed and passed through the Legislature.  

Paxton was impeached by the House Saturday following a four-hour debate and arguments from both supporters and opponents of the attorney general. The final vote was 121-23 to send the matter to the Senate for a trial. On Monday, the House named 12 impeachment managers to try the case in the Senate, and the impeachment managers delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The Senate then created a committee to devise rules for the impeachment and indicated the trial will begin no later than Aug. 28. 

House Bill (HB) 1 by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood), the budget bill, received final approval in the Senate and House on Friday and Saturday, respectively. During debate, members expressed concern about the lack of funding for public education in the budget. Senators Jose Menendez (D–San Antonio) and Roland Gutierrez (D–San Antonio) voted against the budget in the Senate, decrying the lack of a teacher pay raise or increase to the Basic Allotment in the budget. The bill passed the Senate on a 29-2 vote. The next day, Reps. Ken King (R–Canadian), Donna Howard (D–Austin), and Trey Martinez Fischer (D–San Antonio) questioned why the increases in funding for schools had been tied to a voucher and why there was no pay raise for teachers. Ultimately, the budget passed the House by a vote of 124-22.   

HB 100 by K. King was one of the final pieces of education legislation left to be passed. As originally filed, HB 100 was a school finance bill that would have changed funding formulas from attendance- to enrollment-based and changed the minimum salary schedule to a three-tier schedule instead of 20 steps. However, as ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins detailed last week, the Senate dramatically changed the bill in the final week of the regular session by adding an education savings account (ESA) voucher to the bill. The Senate passed the bill late Tuesday evening, sending it back to the House for King, as the original author of the bill, to decide whether to concur with Senate amendments or refuse and request the appointment of a conference committee. Thursday evening, King requested a conference committee. 

Saturday evening, just hours before the deadline to file a conference committee report and following two days of attempted negotiation, King put out a sharply worded statement. The statement indicated that he was displeased that the final budget, HB 1, had significantly less funding for public education than had been previously proposed but also included $500 million for an ESA. He also expressed frustration that teacher pay had been tied to the ESA and that Senate conferees had been unwilling to remove the ESA in conference. As a result, no conference committee report was filed, and the bill died at midnight Saturday.   

HB 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), the lone school safety bill remaining, was finally passed in both the House and Senate on Sunday. The final bill negotiated in conference includes a provision requiring an armed officer at every campus but allows districts who cannot meet that standard other options to comply with the law. The bill also includes $330 million in additional safety funding. The bill passed the House 93-49 and the Senate 27-4. It now heads to the Governor.  

SB 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston), which provides both an additional stipend for retirees and a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), was also finally passed this weekend. This bill provides a $2,400 stipend to retirees ages 70 to 74 or a $7,500 stipend to retirees age 75 or older. It additionally provides a 2% COLA for retirees who retired between Sept. 1, 2013, and Aug. 1, 2020; a 4% COLA for retirees who retired between Sept. 1, 2001, and Aug. 31, 2013; and a 6% COLA for retirees who retired prior to Aug. 31, 2001. The stipends will be paid to retirees in September, while the COLA is contingent on voter approval in the November election.   

As Sunday turned into Monday and sine die loomed, a deal on property tax relief was left hanging in negotiation. As members waited for adjournment Monday, conferees continued to negotiate in hopes of avoiding a special session. The “Big 3”—Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), and Gov. Greg Abbott (R)—traded statements from their respective daises and on social media. Finally, around 7 p.m., both the House and Senate adjourned sine die without a deal on property taxes.   

Within hours of the adjournment, Abbott issued a proclamation calling for a special session.  The proclamation states there will likely be several special sessions, with the first called to address border security and property taxes. The special session started at 9 p.m. Monday.   

Both the House and Senate gaveled in at noon Tuesday to begin the first special called session of the 88th Legislature.  



Gail Wheeler

Will SB10 benefit staff as well as teachers

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