Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday said his state is going to spend $1.6 billion on raises for teachers.
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Abbott, according to The Associated Press, called attention to the pay hikes as fellow Republicans who’ve angered teachers over spending cuts seek to regain a vital voting block after losing more than a dozen seats in the 2018 midterms.
“In the inauguration, I made some pretty bold promises to the people of Texas,” said Abbott, sworn into his second term in January. “I said we must reward teachers in school districts that achieve results, we’ve done that. I said we must prioritize spending in the classroom, we’ve done that.”
A state spending bill has not yet been signed but is expected to cross the governor’s desk before legislators adjourn on Monday, according to the AP.
The $1.6 billion allocation makes Texas the latest state to set aside more funds for public education in the wake of widespread teacher strikes that began in 2017.
Public school teachers in Texas don’t collectively bargain and didn’t strike, but unions, according to the AP, expressed their misgivings last year at the ballot box.
Salaries for public school teachers in Texas are about $7,000 below the national average, according to National Education Association data, and the proposed spending increase would give teachers with at least five years of experience a bump of about $4,000. Librarians and support staff also would see an increase.
The proposal also includes a merit program to pay exceptional teachers even more where “they could make a six-figure living and not have to go into being a principal or administration,” Republican state Rep. Dan Huberty, the Texas House chairman over public education, told the AP.