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Texas House Discusses School Funding Issues During Budget Talks

04.01.2015 — In a marathon meeting of the Texas House of Representatives Tuesday that lasted into Wednesday morning, the House considered more than 350 amendments to its budget bill, HB 1.

Approved amendments include one by lead budget writer Rep. John Otto that would give public schools an additional $800 million in addition to the $2.2 billion already included in the budget bill. On March 25, House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock announced the House’s plan to add this funding via HB 1759, which must pass for the budget amendment to take effect.

Otto also accepted an amendment to his amendment filed by Rep. Yvonne Davis that would provide $1.6 billion for full-day pre-K, contingent upon the passage of HB 424 filed by Rep. Harold Dutton that would expand existing half-day programs to full-day programs.

Another successful amendment was one supported by TASA and many other education-related groups. Filed by Rep. Donna Howard, the amendment provides that unspent funds from the STAAR program go to college-readiness assessments that students take at the eighth- and 10th-grade levels.

An expected debate over private school vouchers did not occur because the anti-voucher amendment filed by Rep. Abel Herrero was withdrawn. He told a reporter on the House floor he did so because “the House has already shown it has overwhelming support for public education.” The amendment would have prohibited the use of state funds for private education of K-12 students.