With Apparent Bipartisanship At The Legislature, 2019 Is Poised To Be The ‘Year Of The Teacher’

A political scientist says Texas’ “Big Three” lawmakers will likely get bills passed to improve teacher pay, and more.

By Rhonda FanningJanuary 18, 2019 10:56 am,

It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with Mike Yawn, political science professor at Sam Houston State University-Huntsville.

On Tuesday’s inauguration of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:

As someone who’s been to the last four presidential inaugurations, I was struck on a more practical level by how much smaller the state inaugurations are than the national. … What was interesting is the show of unity among the Big Three leaders: Abbott, Patrick and Bonnen. And also, a nod towards bipartisanship, which I just had to wonder whether that was a function of a tight election cycle.

On 2019 being the “year of the teacher”:

The average pay for teachers is about $7,000 less in Texas than it is nationally, and … [Sen.] Jane Nelson has proposed a bill that would increase teacher pay by $5,000. I think the Texas House may not go that high but they may put some sort of grant to the school districts where the school districts can use a discretionary fund to either pay teachers or allocate that money for more pressing needs at the local level.

On House Speaker Dennis Bonnen raising campaign funds:

I believe he raised, in about two months, about $4 million, and something around like $150,000 a day. … People want access, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans and the money came in from all directions.

On what he’s expecting to happen this legislative session:

It’s going to be pay increases for teachers, it’s going to be property tax relief at the local level, it will be school finance reform if that’s possible. … And then I think a lot of time will be spent on Hurricane Harvey. And then … everybody else with a dog in the hunt is going to be trying to scramble to get their messages heard and hopefully get their issues on the agenda.

Written by Caroline Covington.