On June 6th, Governor Greg Abbott called a special session and listed 20 priorities to be addressed during the 30 day special session, which began on July 18. Gov. Abbott later added school finance reform and Teacher Retirement System TRS-Care funding.
The Legislature passed very few of Governor Abbott’s priorities, leaving the possibility of a second special session open. Most notably, the Legislature did not pass either school voucher or bathroom legislation. Additionally, teachers will be missing out on their raises, as the chambers failed to agree on how to finance a teacher pay bump.
Perhaps the biggest “victory” of the special session was the extension of important state agencies via sunset legislation, a bill that was held hostage during the regular session that ended in May, and forced Abbott to call the special session in the first place.
The Legislature also passed legislation on school finance reform – HB 21 by Representative Dan Huberty – initially a $1.8 billion influx to public schools in Texas, which would have added $1.5 billion to the basic allotment. The Senate stripped the bill down to ~$300m, focused primarily on various special education grants, support for small and rural schools, and extension of ASATR to prevent many districts from shuttering schools. This bill will have little to no effect on the school districts in Dallas County. However, the bill did establish a School Finance Commission to evaluate and suggest changes to Texas’ school finance system.
It remains to be seen whether this commission will be a serious effort to overhaul the beleaguered school finance system, but we will keep an eye out as the members are selected and the commission’s efforts are underway.
Overall, little was accomplished during the special session – for better or for worse. Our efforts remain on interim charges, such as supporting development of the EC-3 teaching certificate and the Early Childhood Institute at DCCCD.