The Senate Finance Committee held a lengthy hearing Monday on education-related state agencies in Article III of the budget, including the Texas Education Agency and the Teacher Retirement System. After briefings from Legislative Budget Board staff, agency leaders made presentations to the committee and were questioned for hours regarding various programs and initiatives addressed in SB 1, the Senate's appropriations bill.

Commissioner Mike Morath discussed issues ranging from the accountability system to the school safety funding requests in the budget. TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie spoke of the recent changes in TRS-Care and explained the agency’s request for additional investment staff intended to reduce the number of outside investment managers.

TCTA testified to thank the committee for the $3.7 billion dollars included in the budget to fund a $5,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise, and to ask that additional funding be provided to districts so that other employees — counselors, nurses, librarians, teacher aides and the other support personnel who are so important in schools — could also receive salary increases. We also asked that the committee turn its attention to active employee health insurance and include funding in the budget for increased state contributions to help make insurance premiums more affordable.