(The Center Square) – Texas state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, filed two key companion bills related to education on the first day of the third special legislative session this year.
Senate Bill 1, the Texas Education Freedom Act, would provide Texas families with school choice options, prioritized in the call for the special session by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Senate Bill 2 would provide record funding for public school education, including increasing the basic allotment for per-student funding and giving raises to teachers across the board.
“The future of Texas begins in the classroom, and it is incumbent on lawmakers to unleash the potential of education for the 6 million students we serve,” Creighton said in a statement. “This package of legislation infuses historic new funds into public schools, raises the basic allotment and provides immediate across the board raises for Texas educators.”
Creighton filed SB 1 and SB 2 on Monday.
“Both bills are consistent with what I passed during the regular session,” Creighton said, and “set Texas on a path for continued prosperity and a strong economy for future generations.”
Bills advancing school choice and additional funding failed during the regular legislative session. Abbott prioritized the first two special sessions to advance an historic property tax package. He later said he would call a third special session to advance school choice.
Last week, he called the special session to advance four key legislative priorities, with school choice at the top of the list. By passing a school choice bill, he said, the legislature “will chart a brighter future for all Texas children by empowering parents to choose the best education option for their child.”
Creighton said he’d hoped to get the education bills “across the finish line in the regular session, but the most recent state budget projection opens up an unprecedented opportunity to invest an additional $1.2 billion into our Texas students and educators than what was approved in the state budget passed in May.”
SB 2 would allocate $5.2 billion for Texas public schools, representing “the most significant investment in public education in Texas history,” he said. It would appropriate an additional $1 billion more than the proposals made during the 88th regular legislative session.
The bill would allocate $975 million to increase the basic allotment for per student funding in public school districts. This would increase funding by an estimated $175 to 200 per student. Those advocating to increase the basic allotment have called for an increase of $1,000 per student.
It also would allow the districts to provide full discretion on how to disburse state dollars, which Creighton explains “is a significant shift that removes the requirement that 30% of basic allotment funds be spent on teacher salaries.”
The bill would allocate $3.8 billion specifically for teachers’ raises and $317.5 million for Teacher Incentive Allotment Acceleration and Grants. This would allow for a $3,000 retention bonus to be given to every existing public-school teacher in Texas. Teachers in small- and mid-sized school districts would receive an additional $7,000 to help create a level playing field. Teachers in rural areas often make substantially less than those in urban areas.
The bill also would allocate $400 million to increased school safety funding. This would double the amount of funding per student and per campus that was allocated in HB 3 in the regular session.
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee is holding its first public hearing on Creighton’s bills. On Thursday, Abbott, state lawmakers and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, are hosting a Parental Empowerment Leadership Summit in Austin.