The 88th Texas Legislative regular session has ended with House Bill 100, the only proposal on the table that would have increased public education funding to raise teacher salaries and the Basic …
The 88th Texas Legislative regular session has ended with House Bill 100, the only proposal on the table that would have increased public education funding to raise teacher salaries and the Basic Allotment, having died with it. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the bill author, Rep. Ken King (District 88), for his efforts to support Texas public schools. HB 100 would have given additional funding to public schools, approximately $4.5 billion. This funding would have helped Katy ISD take care of our students and provide necessary dollars to give teachers and staff raises. On April 27, HB 100 had overwhelmingly passed in the House with a vote count of 143 yeas and 3 nays and was sent to the Senate. I applaud our House of Representatives for its actions on this bill.
However, over the Memorial Day weekend the Senate reduced funding formulas in HB 100—continuing to shortchange Texas public schools. Having drawn their line in the sand by also adding bill language that would fund education savings accounts, aka “vouchers,” the Senate demonstrated its unwillingness to adequately fund public schools without the House’s support for private school funding through taxpayer dollars.
With rising inflation, I know our community would agree that it costs more money in 2023 to educate our children compared to 2019. The Basic Allotment, set in 2019, remains stagnant at $6,160 with no new dollars in sight. The state budget is projected to have a $33 billion surplus. For the 2024-2025 biennium, the comptroller estimated that there will be a 26.3% increase in revenue compared to 2022-2023. In addition, there will be $27 billion in the Texas “rainy day fund” by the next biennium. This is all while Texas ranks 42nd in the nation for per-student funding.
To date, the Senate’s message has been that investing in Texas public schools is not the priority. Due to the lack of significant investment in our public schools, this will be a challenging budget year for districts across the state. But please know that I am resolute in my commitment to provide unparalleled learning experiences for Katy ISD students. I stand firm in my commitment to take care of our Katy ISD teachers and staff. I also continue to believe in the Texas Constitution to establish and support free public schools in Texas.
Gov. Abbott has called for Special Session #1 with two agenda items: Property Taxes and Border Security. The state has enough funds to reduce property taxes for all Texans and to effectively fund public education. I encourage our community to reach out to the governor’s office and request a special session to increase the Basic Allotment. Ask that that our state invest in the future of Texas public schools and Katy ISD children.
Ken Gregorski is Katy ISD superintendent.