Teacher pay and benefits have been added to the agenda of the special session that begins July 18. But if a bill passes, it might not be quite what you are expecting based on the initial concept of a “$1,000 teacher pay raise” that was rolled out earlier this summer. Any meaningful pay raise proposal will be difficult to implement unless the House and Senate can agree on school funding issues.

Right now, without actual legislation from the leadership having been filed, it is difficult to know what the master plan is (if there is one). The discrepancies among public pronouncements by state leaders, behind-the-scenes briefings, and the rumor mill only add to the confusion.

What we’ve heard:

  • As originally identified as a special session priority by Gov. Greg Abbott, a “$1,000 teacher pay raise” was in the works, and teachers might reasonably have expected a proposal to provide all teachers with an additional $1,000. But this does not appear to be part of the current plans of either Abbott or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
  • Abbott later clarified (in a not-yet-official draft of his agenda) that he wanted “to increase the average salary and benefits of Texas teachers; and…to provide a more flexible and rewarding salary and benefit system for Texas teachers.” (emphasis added)
  • An unofficial description of a plan for teacher salaries that is reportedly supported by the governor has been circulating among legislative offices and education groups. This proposal calls for:
    • an average salary of at least $51,000 for teachers in every district (the current statewide average is more than $52,000, but some districts would likely have to raise salaries to achieve a $51,000 average)
    • categories of “accomplished,” “distinguished,” and “master” teachers who could make significantly higher salaries; these teachers would be determined through a complex system based in large part on student test performance and principal recommendations
    • an effective date beginning with the 2019-20 school year
    • no identified funding; Abbott has previously indicated that he believed the raise could be accomplished by districts reallocating their resources
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has laid out a plan that he characterized as being in addition to the governor’s plan. It includes:
    • longevity bonuses for active teachers of $600 for those with 6-10 years of experience and $1,000 for those with 11 or more years
    • a requirement for districts to reallocate 5% of their budgets to raise the average salary by $8,000 over the next four years 
    • longevity bonuses for retired teachers with at least 20 years of experience in the amount of $600 this year, with an additional $100/year up to a total of a $1,000 bonus
    • an infusion of $200 million into TRS-Care “to help with some of the adjustments made this session”
    • funding through a reallocation of the lottery funds already dedicated to public education (which would require a constitutional amendment approved by Texas voters)
  • As of Friday, July 14, several bills — not expected to have the support of Abbott and Patrick — have been filed in both the House and Senate that would increase salaries by varying means and amounts:
    • HB 64 by Rep. Richard Raymond would appropriate $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to provide an unspecified teacher pay raise.
    • HB 65 by Raymond would appropriate $1 billion from general revenue for an unspecified teacher pay raise.
    • HB 79 by Rep. Drew Darby would require districts beginning in 2017-18 to pay every teacher $1,000 more than the teacher would have otherwise received under the district’s pay schedule for the 2017-18 school year.
    • SB 30 by Sen. José​ Mené​ndez is the same as HB 79 (above) but adds a provision that $1 billion would be appropriated from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for the increase.
    • SB 32 by Sen. Mené​ndez requires the $1,000 increase as in HB 79 and SB 30, but starts with the 2019-20 school year.
    • SB 37 by Sen. José​ Rodríguez provision a stipend of $500 for teachers with at least 5 years of experience, and an additional $500 for certified teachers in shortage areas; applies beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Until the plan approved by the governor has been filed, it is difficult to know exactly what options will actually be on the table. TCTA cannot predict who might receive a raise, how much, and when at this time, and it is entirely possible that no legislation to provide or fund a pay raise will pass. We urge our members to keep a close eye on the legislature during this special session, pay attention to the details of proposals, and contact your legislators regularly.