AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The Texas Senate has passed the first bill of the 2019 legislative session, approving a $5,000 annual pay raise for teachers and school librarians.
The measure passed unanimously on Monday and now heads to the state House.
Under it, Texas would provide funding to school districts for raises for more than 350,000 full-time classroom teachers and librarians beginning next year. Costs to state coffers start at $1.9-plus billion annually and increase form there.
Teacher protests over low pay started in neighboring Oklahoma last year and spread to many other states.
Texas didn't have such large protests, but lawmakers from both parties have vowed to increase classroom pay and funding. A stumbling block, however, may be that school funding relies heavily on property taxes, which top Republicans have vowed to cut.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released the following statement following the passage of Senate Bill 3:
“I congratulate Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and the Texas Senate for unanimously passing this critical legislation to provide a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for Texas teachers. Our productive economy has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accomplish school finance reform and the nearly $4 billion investment to increase teacher pay across-the-board is the first step in accomplishing that goal. Senate Bill 3, along with Senate Bill 4, school finance reform and Senate Bill 12, the Retired Teachers' Security Act, will help us recruit and retain the best teachers in our public schools, which is key to improving student outcomes.
“During my years on the Senate Education Committee, including as chairman in the 2013 session, before I became lieutenant governor, I reviewed a great deal of research on how to improve student outcomes in public schools. All the data points to the same thing — aside from a parent, nothing has more impact on the future success of a child than a teacher. I am very proud that Senate Bill 3 is the first bill the Texas Senate has passed this legislative session."