Time to get acquainted with the new Legislature

The 86th Texas Legislature officially kicked off today with swearing-in ceremonies and the election of Dennis Bonnen as the speaker of the House. Now is a great time to get acquainted with the Legislature, which makes the vast majority of policy decisions affecting Texas school employees and students.

  1. Get to know your lawmakers, because we’ll be asking you to touch base with them on a regular basis. You can find out who represents you here.

  2. See what we’ll be fighting for this session, including: a pay raise for ALL school employees, more funding for our schools and fixes to school finance, more money for school employee health-care premiums, a “timeout” on charter school expansion, and protecting our pensions. You can view our full legislative agenda here, and we’ll have action campaigns on all these items as we move through the session.

  3. Make sure you’re plugged in to our social media, so that you can be aware of any threats to our schools or opportunities to move our agenda:  facebook.com/texasaft, @TexasAFT on Twitter, and @TexasAFT on Instagram.

  4. Remember that you can view all our Hotlines and other news items at www.texasaft.org/newsroom/.

  5. Make plans to attend our March to the Capitol on March 11. You can RSVP and stay tuned to event information on Facebook, check with your local union for transportation options, or register your interest in joining with a group to head to the Capitol. (You do not need to be a Texas AFT member, and all school employees are encouraged to attend!)

A couple other legislative items of note made news in the past week. The Texas Commission on School Finance on December 31 completed its final report with recommendations for the Legislature–including some rather nebulous mentions of the need for additional funding, along with a “performance pay” proposal that would only increase pay for a small number of teachers. You can read more about the report here.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hager yesterday released the Biennial Revenue Estimate–how much the state can anticipate to have on hand to spend–and projected the Legislature would have about $8.9 billion more in funds to spend than last session. Hager was cautiously optimistic on revenue growth, after noting recent declines in oil and gas prices. But an additional striking figure was the estimated $15.4 billion balance projected for the Rainy Day fund by the end of the 2020-21 biennium.