Anti-Voucher Legislators Double Down on Public Education Funding

This Thursday, in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s calls to defund public education through voucher schemes, members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus (HDC) announced a proposal that would fund Texas schools. 

Titled the “Fully Fund Our Future Act,” the plan would increase public education funding by $40 billion. Texas ranks 43rd in the nation for per-student funding, and the $40 billion increase would increase Texas’ per-student funding to match the national average.

Authored by Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), who co-chairs the HDC’s Special Committee on Education with Rep. James Talarico (D-Austin), House Bill 177 would make transformative improvements to the public education funding system in Texas.

HB 177 would provide:

  • a $15,000 raise for full-time teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses, effective for the current school year;
  • a $5,500 raise for all other public school employees who aren’t administrators or paid more than $100,000 a year;
  • a $2,787 increase to per-student funding in the basic allotment starting next school year;
  • An automatic yearly increase to the basic allotment tied to inflation, beginning in the 2025-2026 school year;
  • additional state resources to erase the gap in school security and special education funding; and
  • an $800 per student one-time grant to address pandemic related learning loss.

With these funds, school districts would be able to not only fully fund the mandates currently imposed by the Legislature, but districts could also adequately compensate educators and support staff, reduce class sizes, and improve all employee working conditions. If the recommendations look familiar, they should; they mirror the solutions Texas AFT and Every Texan proposed in our joint report, Fully Funded, Fully Respected: The Path to Thriving Texas Public Schools

Texas AFT President Zeph Capo commented on the proposal stating, “This bill would take real, concrete actions to address the crisis-level staffing shortages in our schools and provide our kids with what they need to thrive. I’m glad to see there are leaders in our state willing to file meaningful legislation,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president, in comments on HB 177. “Naturally, we expect the governor’s opposition to it, though educators across Texas encourage him to get on board with fully funding our schools, no strings attached. We’ve heard all about his big hat, but we’re still waiting to see his cattle.”

The funding increases in the “Fully Fund Our Future Act” contrast starkly with the funding increases proposed in SB 2 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe). Creighton’s bill would raise the basic allotment by just $75 per student, whereas HB 177 would increase it by $2,787 to match the national average for per-student funding. The bill also contrasts with Creighton’s plan in that it would be a “clean” public education funding bill, not tied to a voucher that would  defund public education.