FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2023
Texas legislators have a choice: increase public school funding or bankroll private school vouchers
Amendments to two key bills in the last days of session set up key decision for lawmakers
AUSTIN, Texas – In the early hours of the morning, the Texas Senate passed House Bill 100, a vehicle for long overdue teacher pay raises that Sen. Brandon Creighton corrupted with a hugely expensive voucher over the weekend. Just hours earlier, the Texas House loaded Senate Bill 9, Lt. Gov. Patrick’s priority school finance bill, with a litany of actual education priorities, including a $15 minimum wage for bus drivers and a $1,000 increase to the basic allotment, the largest increase in Texas history.
Though SB 9 has since been postponed indefinitely, HB 100 includes both a significantly smaller basic allotment increase and dangerous voucher language. When the bill goes to conference committee, lawmakers could ditch vouchers and boost the basic allotment as so many politicians have promised.
“After months of debate, arm-twisting from the governor, and desperate attempts to force bad voucher bills through the House, lawmakers have just one choice left before them: Do they want to send more money per student into our communities to support our public schools, or would they rather funnel hundreds of millions away from all our public school students to fund private school vouchers for a select few?” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “The choice is clear. Texans know that public education is the foundation of communities and economies across the state. They recognize that vouchers undermine that foundation, and an overwhelming majority support increasing funding for public schools instead. A historic increase in the basic allotment would fund thoughtful, practical solutions and begin to address real issues like staffing shortages, ballooning class sizes, and abysmal educator pay. That’s the only school choice lawmakers have: fully funded, fully respected public schools or private school vouchers. They can have one or the other, but they can’t have both.”
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.