AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas House on Thursday filed its plan for increasing public school funding and establishing a program for subsidizing private education expenses, proposing a modest boost to baseline public school funding and money to help 25,000 students move out of the public school system.
House Bill 1 by Killeen Republican Brad Buckley, the House Public Education Committee chair, would give teachers a one-time stipend of $4,000 and increase the base per-student funding by $30 — from $6,160 to $6,190.
Belton ISD, in Chairman Buckley’s district just outside of Temple, said he hopes the state will provide more funding.
“Chairman Buckley is a good man and I know he’s trying to advocate for some of the priorities that we have in Belton ISD,” Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith said. “We were very clear about asking for a basic allotment increase. Obviously, we would like to see it be more than that. We believe that we do need more than that based on inflation that we’ve seen over the past couple of years. And we hope to see more than that.”
The bill also establishes an “education savings account” program to subsidize private education expenses for families looking to move their children out of public school.
The House version dedicates significantly less money to education savings accounts than the Senate’s plan, offering families 75 percent of the average per-student funding for public schools — about $4,600. The Senate’s voucher plan would offer families $8,000 per eligible child.
By combining school funding with education savings accounts, House Bill 1 sets up the lower chamber for an intense political fight fueled by Democrats and some rural Republicans who have said they will not support a compromise package.
In the regular legislative session, teacher pay raises and increased school funding fell victim to disagreements over education savings accounts when the Senate combined them into one bill. It is unclear whether enough Republicans will support the latest proposal in the House.
State Rep. Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd, has long been an opponent of any education savings account proposals. He told Nexstar he hopes the House votes on an ESA plan independently, without tying them to teacher pay and public school funding.
“If vouchers are truly something that we need for the state of Texas, they can stand on their own, and they should have their own vote,” Rep. Bailes said. “Personally, I don’t see the appetite in House District 18 and rural Texas for a voucher.”