Donning a “20-for-20” pin on his lapel, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took to the cameras today to unveil some of his specific plans for the special legislative session which starts next week.
Pointing to his shiny new accessory, he declared his intention to lead the Senate in passing all twenty of Governor Greg Abbott’s requested pieces of legislation. He called the Governor’s agenda, “the people’s agenda.”
But Patrick focused the press conference primarily on education, taking a few swipes at House leadership in the process.
Abbott has called for a $1,000 average pay raise for teachers across the state. So today, Patrick laid out his plan for the Senate’s legislation.
Patrick started by saying he wanted to “dispel the myths that we do not prioritize public education.”
He pointed out that Texas spends $60 billion per year on education, which makes up over half of the state’s entire budget.
But he also said that while the education budget has seen a 108% increase in spending over the last 17 years, teacher pay has only increased 35%.
According to Patrick’s numbers, the state spends $163,000 per classroom per year, but on average, only $52,000 of that goes to the teacher.
“Where’s all the money going?” he asked.
Patrick challenged school districts to reallocate 5% of their budgets to teacher pay each year for four years until the average teacher salary had increased to $60,000.
He named cuts to building projects and stadium spending as ways to fund salary increases.
“Teachers have been shortchanged,” he said.
In addition to pay increases, he is calling for new bonuses to incentivize teachers to stick around for the long haul.
Under Patrick’s plan, teachers with 6-10 years of experience would get $600 bonuses every year. Teachers with 11 or more years of experience would get $1,000. Retired teachers would start with a $600 bonus, with $100 increases every year until capping out at $1,000.
To pay for these bonuses, he is recommending a constitutional amendment that would require the first $700 million from the Texas Lottery revenue be allocated for the purpose.
But the House had its own methods of addressing school finance during the regular session and Patrick repeatedly called it a “Ponzi scheme.”
Asked whether he would work with the Speaker Joe Straus, he responded, “I would love to work with the other side, but… we are not going to create a Ponzi scheme and call it school finance.” He claimed that after 7 months of repeated overtures, the Speaker had yet to accept a one-on-one meeting.
Speaker Straus has not responded to the Lt. Governor’s Press Conference at this time.
Please click >>DONATE<< to help us continue!
Lone Star Voice is a non-profit educational publication, pursuant to IRS 501(c)(3). Donations are tax-deductible.