Lawmakers push $15K teacher raises
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A group of House Democrats is proposing a $15,000 raise for the state’s teachers and a 25% raise for other state employees by using some of the state’s record budget surplus. State Rep. James Talarico, D-Austin, announced the bill last week and was joined by Democratic legislators and teachers, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
“This moment demands bold action, and that’s what our state is known for,” Talarico said. “House Bill 1548 would be the biggest teacher pay raise in Texas history. In Texas, we go big or we go home. Let’s go big on teacher pay.”
While the proposal may not gain traction in the GOP-controlled House, it could spur debate as the state faces a growing exodus of public-school teachers. The Dallas Morning News, which analyzed teacher salaries across the state, reported that major suburban and urban districts pay educators the most, while rural school districts and charter schools pay the least.
The highest average teacher salary is in the Houston region at $62,589, while the lowest average teacher salary was in the Abilene region, according to the Texas Education Agency. The state operates 20 educational regions.
Texas leads nation in job creation in 2022
A December employment release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates Texas led the nation in job creation with 650,100 nonfarm jobs added last year – a 5% rate, the fastest in the nation. Coming in second with 621,400 new nonfarm jobs was California.
“Texas works when Texans work, and in this legislative session, we will continue expanding opportunity and ensuring Texas remains the best state to live, work, build a business, and raise a family,” Abbott said.
The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.9% in December, slightly higher than the national average of 3.5%. Total Texas employment reached a new high of 13.705 million at year’s end.
Bills push for accountability after Uvalde shooting
The state senator whose district includes Uvalde has filed four bills related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary last May. Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, filed bills to “reduce gun violence, increase support for school shooting victims and survivors, and push for accountability for the flawed law enforcement response to the mass shooting,” the Statesman reported.
Several families of the Uvalde school shooting victims joined Gutierrez for the announcement last week. One bill would create a school violence victims’ compensation fund. Another would eliminate qualified immunity protection for police officers. The law enforcement response to the shooting has been widely criticized.
Another bill would raise the minimum age to purchase military-style rifles.
“When will it be enough bloodshed? Are you waiting for it to happen to you or your family before you stop to think about your gross negligence?” said Velma Lisa Duran, the older sister of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in Uvalde, the Statesman reported.