Budget Deal, Voucher Vote, Bathroom Bill

–First Look at a State Budget Deal
–Voucher Bill on Senate Agenda for Vote Sunday Evening
–Transgender “Bathroom” Bill Returning as an Amendment?

First Look at a State Budget Deal:  A House-Senate conference committee on the state budget bill for the next two fiscal years came to an agreement at 1 a.m. Saturday night. Final drafting of the post-midnight deal remains to be done, but here’s some of what we know regarding education funding:

–The deal does not build in a much-needed increase in per-pupil funding for school districts. Only if the HB 21 school-finance bill passes could such an increase occur, and that bill is now being misused by the Senate primarily as the vehicle for a private-school voucher program. (See more on this voucher “poison pill” below.)
–The bill does include a needed funding increase for TRS-Care, the retiree health program, but the bill authorizing changes in TRS-Care to match the money, HB 3976, still has to pass the Senate.
–Higher-education funding that was slashed under the Senate proposal will not face these harsh cuts; instead the future of this “non-formula” funding will be the subject of an interim study.
–Even though school districts receive no new per-pupil aid, they will be forced to set aside 15 percent (approximately $236 million) of their pre-K per-pupil funding for the governor’s high-quality pre-K initiative.

Voucher Bill on Senate Agenda for Vote Sunday Evening:  The Senate’s subversive rewrite of a good school-finance bill, turning HB 21 into what is primarily a voucher bill, is coming up for a vote Sunday evening, we are told. As long as this bill has a voucher plan in it, Texas AFT opposes the bill. Please, if you have not done so already, add your voice by e-letter against the voucher “poison pill” that has been inserted into HB 21.

This voucher bill must be stopped! Click on this link to send your letter now:

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/special-education-vouchers-a-bad-bargain-for-students-with-disabilities.

Transgender “Bathroom Bill” Returning as a House Amendment? Rumor has it that a discriminatory “bathroom bill” targeting transgender children in our public schools will be resurrected as an amendment to a “school safety” bill on the House floor Sunday. Texas AFT opposed the original bill, SB 6, which failed to advance in the House, and opposes now any attempt to pass it or anything like it as an amendment. It is ironic that a bill on school-safety planning, SB 2078, could become a vehicle for an amendment imperiling the safety of vulnerable students, by dictating in state law what school districts’ policies must say on this sensitive subject.

 

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