As I hope most of you have figured out by now, neither Gov. Greg Abbott nor Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has any intention of raising teacher pay or retiree benefits during the special legislative session because neither is proposing any increase in education funding. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Abbott and Patrick have three education-related goals this session, which may prove to be one of the meanest gatherings of the Texas Legislature in recent memory. All three are bad news, and none has anything to do with teacher pay.
First, they want to ridicule and bully transgender students and educators with the discriminatory, divisive and unnecessary bathroom bill. Second, they want to peddle the voucher scam again. And, finally, they will try once more to weaken the political influence of teachers over education policy with a dues deduction bill to thwart the right of educators to spend their modest paychecks – their own money — the way they see fit.
The governor and the lieutenant governor concocted their eleventh-hour “pay raise” schemes for a reason. They are trying to cover their bankrupt public education records on the eve of reelection campaigns in which both will be trying again to fool parents and educators into thinking they actually give a rat’s tail about public schools or the people who work in them.
There are genuine teacher pay raise proposals on the horizon, proposals that actually would use state funds to boost teacher pay. Some legislators believe the state should tap into the Rainy Day Fund to pay for it.
The Rainy Day money is there, more than $10 billion, according to the state comptroller. That’s enough to cover a teacher pay raise, health care improvements and other critical public needs that Abbott and Patrick have persisted in ignoring.
The Rainy Day Fund is a state savings account that was intended to meet emergencies, and school finance, including teacher pay, is a growing emergency. But Abbott and Patrick want to keep your tax money bottled up to use as ideological bragging rights with voters who want to shrink government and privatize education.
Speaker Joe Straus recognizes the importance of increasing public education funding. Straus also opposes the bathroom bill and already is under attack from the Abbott and Patrick camps.
Getting a teacher pay raise or any additional education funding out of this special session will be difficult. If it happens, the push will come from Straus and the House, not from Abbott and Patrick.