Teachers head to state Capitol ahead of special session

Breaking down the battles in the special session

Hundreds of teachers are expected to descend on Austin Monday ahead of special session of the Texas Legislature at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Governor Greg Abbott announced a 20-item agenda back in June, including several education issues that the House and Senate clashed over during the regular session.

Carl Garner has watched all of it closely.

The sixth grade math and science teacher in the Mesquite Independent School District is the incoming president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, one of the largest state organizations for teachers.

"We have teachers coming from across the state," Garner said.

Among the issues educators want to be heard over is Abbott's call for a $1,000 bonus for all Texas school teachers.

It's a plan Garner says teachers appreciate, but not the way it has been presented.

"It'’s not that we don’t want the raise, we would absolutely welcome the raise, but you need to fund it," Garner said.

Abbott's proposal calls for the raise to happen with no additional state funding. Instead, school districts would be tasked with coming up with the money by reducing spending in another part of its budget.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday outlined a plan for the state to pivot $700 million in lottery revenue for the next two years to start providing teachers $600 to $1,000 annual bonuses.

"[School districts] have to be better on how they spend the money and they have to put more focus on teachers," Patrick said.

When the special session starts Tuesday, Abbott hopes to get through 20 bills in just 30 days.

School funding and property tax reform should get the most debate.

It’s a departure from the session during the spring when one bill, regulating which restrooms transgender Texans can use, captured national attention.

SB6 did not pass in the House after clearing the Senate.

Appearing on Inside Texas Politics Sunday, Republican Rep. Jason Villalba of Dallas and Democrat Rep. Nicole Collier of Fort Worth said they don’t expect a repeat bathroom bill showdown.

"I don't think we're even going to hear it," Villalba said.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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