Dan Patrick’s teacher bonus plans require districts to prioritize educator pay

Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick says school districts must find 5 percent more of current money to dedicate to teachers

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announces his plan to "re-prioritize" school district money to give teachers a pay increase.

AUSITN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott put giving Texas teachers a $1,000 pay raise on the agenda for the upcoming special legislative session. Thursday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced specifics for how he wants to do it, requiring school districts to set aside five percent of their current money for the increase.

To pay for the plan long-term, Lt. Gov. Patrick will push the Texas Senate to pass a constitutional amendment that would dedicate $700 million a year from the Texas Lottery, $1.3 billion of which goes to education — to teacher bonuses.

Voters would have to approve this idea in the fall election.

Until the lottery money kicks in, Patrick proposed delaying Medicaid money and transferring it to education. A “deferral” of the managed care part of Medicaid is a common trick lawmakers use to pay for things they want now, then they pay back Medicaid in the near future.

Patrick announced that, “over the next four years, find the 5 percent of all of your funding that’s not going to teachers and make sure it goes to teachers.”

Nicole Elliott is a social studies teacher from Mesquite. She stumbled into the press while touring the Capitol after the press conference. She’s skeptical her district has the current money to spare.

“We need raises because a lot of stuff that we buy for our kids in the classroom or materials, or supplies, anything for curriculum or lessons, it comes out of our pocket,” she told several reporters, “for our district they are all about the classroom first, before maybe admin.”

Mark Wiggins, from the Association of Texas Professional Educators, says without new state money districts will continue the current trend of asking for more money from local taxpayers.

“There are districts that have said they will have to close their doors because they are not getting enough support from the state,” said Wiggins.

Lt. Gov. Patrick called the Texas Houses proposal from the 2017 legislative session a “Ponzi scheme.” That plan would have added $1.6 billion more from the state of Texas by expanding the per-student funding formula.

Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, responded to the announcement by saying, “It’s encouraging to see the lieutenant governor’s newfound focus on school finance reform. Nothing could be more important in this special session than beginning to fix our school finance system so that we improve education, keep more local dollars in local schools, and provide real property tax relief, just as the House overwhelmingly approved in the regular session.”

The office of Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chair of the House Public Education committee told KXAN he has no comment at this time.

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