The Texas Senate passed CSHB 100 on a vote of 18-13 just before midnight last night (Tuesday, May 23). The bill, originally focused on teacher retention and pay increases, was substituted in the Senate Education Committee with a version containing many provisions TASA members have opposed throughout the session. The bill now diverts much-needed funding to private school voucher schemes.
Highlights of CSHB 100 as it passed the Senate:
- adds ESAs/vouchers for up to $8,000 per student from $500 million of general revenue funds
- increases the Basic Allotment by only $50
- adds funding for charter facilities
- allows free student transfers across district boundaries
- mandates that districts, except for those districts with fewer than 7,000 students, operate five-day school weeks
- strips the State Board of Education of authority over the State Board for Educator Certification
- eliminates the funding cap for the Fast Growth Allotment
During the Senate floor debate, 15 amendments were added to CSHB 100. Some of the floor amendments:
- require the regional ESCs to study teacher shortages within their regions
- allow teachers to not elect to take their paid personal leave concurrently with unpaid leave that they are entitled to under FMLA
- allow LEAs to enter into agreements and establish a co-op for procuring health insurance
CSHB 100 now goes back to the House. The bill’s author, Rep. Ken King, has three options: 1) accept the Senate changes; 2) ask that the bill go to a conference committee, where differences between the version passed by the House and the one passed by the Senate can be hashed out and taken back to both chambers for an up or down vote; or 3) not accept the changes and send it back to the Senate, where the bill will die.