capitol-e14108033083241About the Texas AFT Legislative Hotline

The Texas AFT Legislative Hotline is published by e-mail and to this site each business weekday (and some holidays and weekends when important news justifies a post) by the staff at the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

You may sign up for the e-mail list here.

Hotlines from August 20, 2010 to present may be found on the main site through the month links on the right navigation bar, or by using the search field.

Hotlines before that day may be found here.

 

danpatrick9

Two of the worst bills of the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature could be voted on in the Texas Senate as early as this Wednesday, March 29. One would drain taxpayer dollars from public education to give away subsidies to private schools with no accountability. This voucher bill is SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). The other part of this dual attack is SB 13 by Sen. … (read more…)

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The state budget takes center stage at the Capitol in Austin during the week ahead. The Senate is expected to vote March 28 on its budget bill, SB 1. This bill leaves much to be desired. It will cut higher education significantly–as much as 10 percent at some institutions of higher learning. For public schools it does cover the cost of enrollment growth, but it will leave pre-K/12 per-pupil … (read more…)

Split Vote Signals Fight Ahead: The Senate Education Committee by a vote of seven to three on Thursday approved a committee substitute for SB 3, the voucher bill by committee chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). The outcome in committee came as no surprise, considering that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had stacked the committee this year with known voucher backers. The vote came before the committee even … (read more…)

A batch of bills heard in the House Public Education Committee this week would make significant strides toward reining in the outsized role of standardized state testing in school accountability. The leading bill is HB 22 by committee chair Dan Huberty (R-Houston), which would delay use of A-F ratings until August 2019, giving the Legislature another chance in the 2019 regular session to revise … (read more…)

SenateEdLouisTestimony

An all-day, all-evening hearing on the top voucher bill in the Texas Senate has made it plain that even in the pro-voucher Senate there will be serious resistance to the diversion of taxpayer dollars without accountability to private schools. Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro, testifying late in the evening on Tuesday, recapped what scores of educators, parents, civil-rights activists, … (read more…)

The Texas Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a draft 2018-19 budget (SB 1) that would let per-pupil funding for public schools stagnate, keeping the basic allotment for all districts at the same level as in 2016. Under the Senate plan, the state would actually reduce the amount of state general revenue for schools substantially, making up the difference by relying more heavily on … (read more…)

savetexasschools

Our friends at Save Texas Schools asked us to share information on their rally this Saturday at the Capitol. Here’s the scoop:

There’s a rally down at the Capitol on Saturday called Save Texas Schools from 10 a.m. to noon.

This is Save Texas Schools 5th statewide rally since 2011 to fight budget cuts and too much testing. Over 30,000 teachers, parents, students … (read more…)

vouchermoneyloss

We thought we’d seen it all, but now comes word from the state Capitol that lawmakers have been receiving hundreds of pro-voucher letters purportedly coming from folks in their home districts–which those folks never sent or authorized. As reported by the Texas Tribune online news site, it seems the letters are all originating in Austin, and the constituents whose names were hijacked are outraged … (read more…)

Controversial Pick for Pension Board Faces Texas Senate Opposition:
Serious opposition has developed in the Texas Senate to the appointment of Josh McGee to serve as chair of the State Pension Review Board. McGee is a prominent critic of state-guaranteed pension benefits and is employed by a foundation in Houston that has led attacks on defined-benefit pensions around the … (read more…)

(Update: A Senate Education hearing on SB 3 was held on March 21, and the committee could vote on the bill as early as Thursday, March 23.)

Send an online letter to your legislators now! (This is a new campaign, so you’re … (read more…)

Committee Vote Coming Up on Fox in the Pension Henhouse: The Senate Nominations Committee is due to act March 16 on a State Pension Review Board appointee known for his criticism of guaranteed pension benefits. Josh McGee, Gov. Greg Abbott’s choice to chair the Review Board, is a functionary of the Houston-based Arnold Foundation that has led attacks on defined pension benefits … (read more…)

Voucher Bill Set for March 21 Hearing:  SB 3 is the high-profile private-school voucher bill of the 2017 Texas legislative session, assigned a low bill number as a token of the priority placed on the bill by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Senate’s presiding officer. It has been noteworthy that the bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing thus far in the 2017 session.

Now … (read more…)

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More than 2,000 Texas AFT members and allies from across Texas rallied on the front steps of the Texas Capitol Monday and brought their strong grass-roots presence to bear in scores of visits with individual legislators.

They came together in support of a strong, proactive agenda for public education and the schoolchildren and higher-ed students they serve. Key elements of that agenda: … (read more…)

A U.S. House committee voted on March 10 to renew the District of Columbia pilot voucher program, benefiting mostly parochial schools—a program with little to show for it educationally that remains the only federally funded voucher scheme in the country. The action by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sets the stage for eventual consideration of the so-called “Opportunity … (read more…)

School Finance:  HB 21, the new school-finance bill filed by House Public Education Committee chair Dan Huberty (R-Houston), is drawing broad support from groups that often have been at odds over the allocation of school funding. Groups representing high-wealth and low-wealth school districts alike endorsed Huberty’s proposal for an increase of $1.6 billion in state aid to … (read more…)

The 2017 TRS trustee nomination election is under way from now until May 5. The Texas AFT executive council has endorsed the reappointment of Karen Charleston for a seat on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas board of trustees. Charleston has served as a TRS trustee since 2011, when she was appointed to what was then a seat reserved for a representative of higher education employees. The … (read more…)

Fox Staring at Hen

Send your letter now telling your senator to vote “No” on putting a fox in the pension henhouse!

Houston-based hedge-fund billionaire and former Enron trader John Arnold for years has mounted an attack on public pensions providing guaranteed lifetime benefits that you cannot … (read more…)

huberty

House Public Education Committee chair Dan Huberty (R-Houston) on Monday filed the House leadership’s initial plan to improve school finance for the coming biennium. The bill is HB 21 (the low number signals it’s a leadership priority), and House rules were suspended so that the bill can be heard on Tuesday, March 7, in Huberty’s committee.

According to Huberty’s layout of the bill at a … (read more…)

The Texas House has begun moving toward a vote to use the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund) to cover shortfalls in state funding for key state services. This welcome first step was taken today with filing of HB 2, the supplemental appropriations bill by budget committee chair John Zerwas (R-Richmond), which would tap the ESF for around $1.4 billion to cover shortfalls … (read more…)

Stop Assault on Texas Unions

HB 510, the Texas House version of the bill to take away your freedom to have your organizational dues deducted from your paycheck, has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee for review. This bill by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) resembles legislation that died in the House State Affairs Committee in 2015. The 13-member committee this session is made up of the following House members: … (read more…)

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With ill-conceived plans to divert public funds to private schools incubating at both the federal and state levels in the name of “school choice,” AFT President Randi Weingarten recently issued a timely reminder that it is deeds, not words, that ultimately count. Here is how she applied this principle to the words and deeds of Donald Trump in her February column in the New York Times:

Send a letter now to telling your state legislators to say “No!” to Vouchers!

Voucher Verdict: Dismal Results, No Accountability, and High Cost

The evidence keeps piling up against private-school vouchers. And you can help Texas legislators … (read more…)

The House Pensions Committee hears an initial round of testimony on February 27 on the Teacher Retirement System. This House committee has a key role in the design and proper funding of school employees’ health care and protection of their pensions.

On February 28, SB 17 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), a bill to phase out the franchise tax, will get a hearing in the Senate Finance … (read more…)

SB 7 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and SB 653 by Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) are bills that would strengthen and expand the reach of penalties for inappropriate relationships maintained by educators and other education employees with student in Texas public schools. The bills have been inspired by recent news reports of increased incidence of improper relationships between educators with … (read more…)

Catching you up on some telling points made in Texas House hearings on education matters this week, we note the following:

  • In the House Appropriations subcommittee on education funding on Monday, Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) spotlighted the fact that funding for standardized testing is not slated for any reduction in the Texas Education Agency budget plan for 2018-2019, unlike … (read more…)

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