The Texas Senate passed SB 19 Tuesday, a bill that provides longevity bonuses for teachers and additional funding for TRS-Care. A more controversial provision that required salary increases but did not have specified funding included, leading to concerns that districts would have to reallocate scarce local funding to provide the raises, was removed from the bill. The Senate also passed SB 7, the legislation prohibiting payroll deduction of association dues.

See our previous story about the related committee hearing here.

SB 19

The SB 19 bonuses would be paid beginning in September of 2018, and that year's bonuses are funded through a delayed payment to managed care organizations. Classroom teachers with 6-10 years of experience would receive $600, and those with 11 or more years would receive $1,000. The bonus structure would remain in statute in subsequent years, and whether the bonuses would be paid, and how much, would be determined in each biennial state budget. 

The bill also add $212 million to TRS-Care to help reduce deductibles and other costs for retirees (the projected change in the pre-65 plan would be a $1,500 deductible, rather than the $3,000 amount that was approved following the regular session). Some of the additional funding would also be used to reduce premiums and out-of-pocket maximums for retirees insuring disabled adult children.

A section of the bill that required districts to provide pay raises in an amount equal to $1,000 per teacher (although the districts would have been free to determine how and to which teachers the raises would be distributed) was deleted. TCTA and other groups had objected to the lack of specified funding for this provision, which could have resulted in districts having to reallocate local funds to pay for the raises with no state funding.

Bill author and Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson expressed her commitment to ongoing efforts to increase salaries and ensure adequate funding for retiree health insurance in future years.

SB 7

On a mostly partisan vote (Sen. Robert Nichols voted with the Senate's Democrats against the bill), the bill to prohibit teachers and other public employees from having the option to deduct professional association dues from their paychecks, passed 19-12. TCTA appreciates the many senators who rose to speak against the legislation on the grounds that it appeared to be an attempt to quiet the voices of teachers and other public employees.

Both bills will now move on to the House.