AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers have repeated: the most important issue of the 2019 legislative session is school finance.
And Thursday, members of the House Democratic Caucus introduced their plan to address it.
Overall, the plan would inject $14.5 billion in general revenue into the public schools. Some of that money would go toward funding full-day Pre-K, increasing how much the state spends on each students, giving pay raises to teachers and all support staff and putting a licensed behavioral health professional on every campus.
Caucus members say they also want to use $1.75 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), commonly referred to as the "Rainy Day Fund," to stabilize the Teacher Retirement System and give teachers $500 each for classroom supplies.
To fund solutions in the long term, the Democrats support Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar's idea of investing a portion of the ESF, which he calls the Legacy Fund.
"That would still be part of the Economic Stabilization Fund overall but would be invested differently," Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) said. "Still be prudent, still be conservative, but at a higher yield so that we would actually surpass inflation. Make money off of money without taxing anybody anything more."
The Caucus members said they are ready to work with Republicans and the Speaker of the House to pass their plan.
In reaction to the Democrat's plan, Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) gave KVUE News the following statement:
From day one, I have made it explicitly clear that ALL Members -- regardless of Chamber or Party -- must work together in order to successfully pass a meaningful solution to school finance. When it comes to educating our children, there is no Republican or Democrat plan. There is only a Texas plan. Partisan division has prevented the Legislature from accomplishing school finance reform in sessions past, and I fully expect all Members to stand united behind Chairman Huberty and the Public Education Committee as they introduce school finance legislation in the weeks to come.
You can read the "Texas Kids First Plan" in full below: