FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2023
As the House plans to debate the budget Thursday, educators’ union president asks, “What should we expect next — an actual slap in the face?”
AUSTIN, Texas — At a time that the state of Texas has an unprecedented $188.2 billion in the bank for the upcoming biennium — and a $32.7 billion surplus — the Texas House will vote Thursday on a proposed budget that has no guarantees for a raise for Texas teachers and public school employees.
“Budgets are moral documents, showing plainly what we care about and how much we’re willing to support what we care about,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a statewide union that represents 66,000 current and retired school employees. “If this is what ends up passing the Texas House, every legislator who votes for it is telling our kids and the people who take care of them exactly what they’re worth: nothing.”
As it stands, the House’s proposed budget, HB 1, includes an increase in per-pupil funding of public schools: a meager $50 per student. For reference, the basic allotment has been stuck $6,160 per student since 2019; just to keep up with inflation, it would need to be $7,325 for the upcoming school year, a difference of $1,165 per student.
While current state law does include a mechanism that automatically provides teacher raises when the basic allotment is increased, a $50 per-student increase amounts to just a $455 raise for every Texas teacher — less than most spend out of their own pocket for classroom supplies each year.
HB 1 guarantees no other funding specifically dedicated to raises for teachers and school staff, even though 77% of Texas AFT members surveyed in 2023 reported that they were seriously considering leaving their jobs. Their biggest motivation? Stagnant, low pay.
Seemingly, the House plans to abdicate its responsibility to the Senate, where a modest $2,000 raise for teachers has been proposed — and no raise for support staff, including the bus drivers, food service workers, and paraprofessionals often making poverty-level wages.
“I would ask the Legislature this: what should we expect next — an actual slap in the face?” Capo said. “We’ve done the job for you. We’ve told you what we need to keep our schools fully staffed. If you refuse to make that happen, we’ll fight to find new legislators who will.”
Capo’s comments reference research released last month by Texas AFT and Every Texan, a nonpartisan think tank, that details the investments needed to build a thriving Texas public education system.
In the report, titled Fully Funded & Fully Respected: The Path to Thriving Texas Public Schools, the organizations present an answer to the question, “What do fully funded public schools look like?”
For a biennium price tag of $33.4 billion, the Texas Legislature can ensure that Texas public schools — which 89% of Texas parents are happy with — have the resources they need to help students thrive:
- A minimum $10,000 raise for Texas teachers and certified staff
- A minimum 15% raise for public school support staff
- Hiring enough teachers to meet class-size ratio requirements
- Fully staffing nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers to recommended ratios
- Hiring a nurse at every public school campus currently without one
- Increasing state contributions to educators’ health care to keep premiums stable
- Providing retired educators with a 10% cost-of-living adjustment to their pensions — a first in nearly 20 years
- Restored funding to certification programs that help support staff gain their teaching credentials
The Texas House plans to debate and vote on its proposed budget Thursday. Texas AFT is encouraging all teachers, school employees, parents, and public school supporters to call their representatives this week. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Texas AFT will host an emergency meeting for educators and allies on Facebook Live to discuss the situation and call to action.
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.