Increased School Aid Wins Overwhelming Vote in Texas House; Senate Names Budget Team; TRS Board Elections

Increased School Aid Wins Overwhelming Vote in Texas House:  The big school-finance bill of the 2017 session,  HB 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), was approved by an overwhelming margin of 134 to 16 Wednesday night after hours of debate on amendments but with no major changes. Texas AFT supported the bill, which would provide an infusion of an additional $1.8 billion or more for Texas public schools. The funding infusion on average would amount to $210 per pupil per year. As Rep. Huberty said in laying out the case for the bill, it makes a good start on the long-term project of retooling Texas school finance. The bill requires one final vote in the House and then goes on to the Senate, where the overwhelming House vote and the broad coalition Huberty has assembled for his bill will be hard to ignore.

Senate Names Negotiating Team on State Budget:  The Senate now has taken the ritual step of rejecting House changes in SB 1, the state budget bill for 2018-19, and has named a negotiating team to work out a deal with the House on state spending. The Senate conferees on the budget will be five members of the Senate Finance Committee:  Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound); Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen); Joan Huffman (R-Houston); Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown); and Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). House conferees are expected to be named Thursday.

TRS Board Candidate Karen Charleston Deserves Support: The deadline to submit a ballot to forward a TRS trustee candidate to the governor is 5 p.m. (Central), Friday, May 5—just two weeks away. The Texas AFT executive council voted unanimously to support Karen Charleston for the “at-large” position—which is open to an active or retired TRS member in public or higher education. Voting for this position is likewise open to all TRS members—active, retired, K-12, or higher education.

Charleston is a long-time member of the Texas State Employees Union and is committed to the interests of TRS members, pledged to “keep our TRS fund strong” and “fight for what we deserve.”

As the incumbent, Charleston has represented the interests of all TRS members actively, but she is the only person on the board and the only trustee candidate currently working in higher education, with almost 30 years at Prairie View A&M. If she is not reappointed, some 150,000 college and university workers won’t have one of their own on the TRS board.

Our friends at TSEU have information about voting, including getting a replacement for a lost ballot, at https://www.facebook.com/CWA.TSEU/photos/a.10150132641620272.328933.174977450271/10155000448545272/.

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