The House Public Education Committee met Monday, Oct. 28, to take invited testimony on two major bills that passed recently: House Bill 3 from the 2019 legislation (school finance/teacher salaries) and House Bill 22 from 2017 (accountability). TCTA General Counsel Lonnie Hollingsworth was the only teacher representative invited, and served on the panel that addressed HB 3 implementation issues.

Hollingsworth spoke about how hard it has been for districts to get accurate information on the amount of new funding to expect from the state. Uncertainty about funding has led to overly conservative estimates in some places, resulting in less money directed to employee salary increases than should be the case.

A Texas Tribune article on the hearing noted, “Hollingsworth said some [districts] have chosen to ‘lowball’ those raises until they get final calculations from the state on things like tax revenue and funding for low-income students, promising to increase salaries once there is more financial certainty.” But Hollingsworth urged the committee to emphasize to districts that the required increases are minimal, and that full compliance with the law is expected.

He also pointed out that since districts already spend an average of 80% of their budgets on employee salaries, 50% on teachers specifically, the requirement to spend 30% of new funding on pay raises should not be an onerous mandate.