Publish Date: June 27, 2023 5:56 pm Author: Texas AFT
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Friday, June 16, 2023
New Committees, New Laws, New Special Sessions… No New Raises
Two weeks after Sine Die, Texas elected officials are still crossing t’s and dotting i’s on one of the most disappointing sessions for public education in recent memory.
Gov. Greg Abbott has already called a special session to pass a few of his priority bills (not anything that would fully fund public education, of course) that didn’t get settled in the regular session.
While he is juggling a special session, which seems to have ended with a continued standstill, Abbott also has an upcoming deadline to close out the regular session. Abbott has until Sunday, June 18 to decide whether to sign or veto bills that passed during the regular session.
The regular session might be wrapping up and the first special session might be at a standstill, but decisions are still being made that are consequential for public education.
In the Hotline this week we are wrapping up the regular session and looking forward to future special sessions.
In this week’s Hotline:
Our deep dive into what TRS Retirees can expect from the COLA bill passed during the legislative session
Updates from the first of “several” legislative special sessions and a look at Speaker Phelan’s new education committee
Texas AFT Retiree Plus member Lydia Carrillo-Valdez shares her experiences at a press conference Monday with other retired educators, as well as Rep. John Bryant, Rep. Mihaela Plesa, and Texas AFT Secretary-Treasurer Ray McMurrey.
Unpacking the 88th Legislature: Retired Teacher COLA
Educators in Texas who have retired over the past two decades have never received an increase to their monthly pension. Even those who retired before then have only received a slight increase to their monthly annuities. Meanwhile, consumer prices have increased by more than 60% in Texas over the past twenty years.
According to state law, increases to annuities for retirees under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) require an action by the legislature. The legislative session began with a $32.7 billion budget surplus. After years of advocacy and after years of inflation, retirees needed and deserved a significant increase.
In this week’s edition of “Unpacking the Legislature” we explain what retired educators won this legislative session, what legislators are saying now, and what to expect next.
Special Session Update: New Committees and New Attacks
As the House and Senate’s increasingly public and hostile battle over how to distribute more than $12 billion in property tax relief rages, both chambers have made other moves that have serious implications for the future of public education in Texas.
This week, House Speaker Dade Phelan announced a new committee which might have a big role in deciding the fate of public school funding and private school vouchers in the state of Texas.
According to a press release from the Speaker’s office, the 15-member Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment was created with broad goals of increasing education access, improving student outcomes, and modernizing student assessment and accountability measures. The body is tasked with submitting a report on their recommendations and findings by no later than Aug. 11, 2023.
As the Senate continues to tread water on the issue of property tax relief, it has taken the opportunity to further attack public education, specifically targeting the separation of church and state. This Monday, the Senate considered three bills which would bring religion to public schools.
We stand with all LGBTQ+ educators, students, and Texans. This month, show your solidarity publicly and pick up a Texas AFT Pride hat at store.texasaft.org! Every purchase made through our online store serves as a donation to Texas AFT COPE, our union’s political fund.
AFT Member Benefits:
You have endured another challenging school year and a bruising legislative session in which you advocated fiercely. If you are able (and not working summer school or yet another job), we hope you are taking an opportunity to recharge over the summer.
If you do have travel plans, remember your AFT membership benefits. All AFT members are eligible for significant discounts on flights with Southwest Airlines through our SWABIZ® account.
After surviving a long school year, reward yourself by doing something that’s good for you and your financial well-being — like making sure your insurance and retirement plans are still on track.
Long-time corporate supporter, Horace Mann, provides solutions to help address the challenges you face every day — in and out of the classroom. Horace Mann offers auto, home, life and supplemental insurance, as well as retirement solutions. They also offer programs to help you find more money in your budget and ongoing support to help you grow and protect assets with confidence.
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Texas education news from around the state that’s worth your time
On June 8th, Houston ISD’s new state-appointed board of managers conducted business amid a vocal crowd of local community members, parents, students, educators, and organizations who refuted the board’s appointments and contract approval of interim HISD Superintendent Mike Miles. (Chron.com, June 9)
📖The Texas high school that delayed graduation says 100% of seniors are ready to walk
Students at Marlin High School were notified late May of a change of planes in graduation: the ceremony would be postponed until sometime in June. Of 33 seniors in the school’s traditional program, only five met the requirements to get a diploma, Marlin ISD Superintendent Darryl Henson said, citing an initial internal audit of attendance, grades and credits that started last week. “We are excited to report that as of Thursday June 8, 38 out of 38 seniors have met all requirements for graduation as outlined by the TEA,” Marlin ISD Superintendent Darryl Henson told NPR. (NPR, June 13)
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