|Dear HD 106 Parents, Students, Taxpayers, Teachers, Trustees, and Superintendents,
I am proud of the work we have done over the past three sessions to support the 5.5 million children – including my own – who are enrolled in our public education system. As a new school year is upon us, I want to make sure you are aware of funding initiatives I helped pass earlier this year to support our kids and those who love on and teach them every day.
For the upcoming biennium, fiscal years 2024 and 2025, funding for public education totals just over $93.6 billion. This includes an increase of over $30.3 billion in state General Revenue accounted for in the General Appropriations Act and Supplemental Appropriations Act. Of the increase, $12.6 billion is new funding to compress the maintenance and operations tax rate, plus $5.4 billion to increase the homestead exemption. These allocations of state revenue will replace local tax collections in the school finance system, which results in the state’s share of public education funding exceeding 50% for the first time in decades and reduces recapture by $5.5 billion. An additional $12.39 billion is allocated to school districts in the strategies listed below. The following has already been passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor:
1. $3.2 billion to fully fund projected enrollment growth.
2. $2.4 billion to fund the increase in the golden penny yield.
3. $1.4 billion in new funding for school safety measures. This includes $300 million in the school safety allotment (an increase from $100 million in the previous biennium) and $1.1 billion in school safety grants. An additional $400 million in school safety funding was provided through a budget execution in the fall of 2022, totaling $1.8 billion in new funding for school safety overall.
4. $500.0 million in additional state aid under the Foundation School Program, which provides a new source of state aid to each district to support the evaluation, adoption, or use of instructional materials approved by the State Board of Education. The funding will also be used to expand access to open education resource instructional materials.
5. $589 million to mitigate the increase of health insurance premiums for teachers participating in TRS ActiveCare.
6. $307 million in funding increases for technology and instructional materials; and
7. $60 million for the new Instructional Materials Allotment.
The remaining $4 billion in new state General Revenue is appropriated in the General Appropriations Act and will be used to implement new strategies as determined by the Legislature in a special session, likely this fall. Possible strategies include, but are not limited to, funding for increased compensation and benefits for classroom teachers; additional funding for the Teacher Incentive Allotment; increases to the Basic Allotment; increased funding for school safety; increased funding for curriculum and/or the Instructional Materials and Technology Allotment; and increased funding for Special Education.
In addition to new state funding for the Foundation School Program, the Legislature passed measures to address inflationary pressures facing our retired public school employees. Under the bills passed and signed by the Governor, retirees of our public education system will receive both a supplemental payment (known as the 13th check) and a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This includes:
1. $1.6 billion for a supplemental annuity payment for retirees; and
2. $3.4 billion to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to retirees.
Important to note, the federal government and the Texas Legislature provided significant funding during the pandemic to help address issues caused by the disruptions. Districts were provided over $19 billion in relief funding that was distributed directly to Education Service Centers to assist with the challenges of the pandemic.
Our schools are more successful when we all work together for better outcomes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance. Best wishes on another successful school year!
State Representative, District 106