John Gray of the Texas State Teachers Association said the September 2018 bonus would come two months before 150 House members, half of the 31 senators and most statewide officeholders are up for re-election.
“This looks like a campaign issue,” he said.
But there’s “no real, permanent funding commitment to these items, and that’s why we’re opposed,” he said. After politicians say they voted for raises, Gray said, he fears that “then we come back in 2019 and oops, there’s no more money, sorry teachers.”
Nelson quickly asked to be recognized.
“First of all, I’m not up for re-election,” she said. “Second of all, the reason I am sitting in the Senate today is because of my passion about education. And nobody do I want to help more than teachers.”
The longevity bonuses in the 2018-19 school year would cost $193 million. The bill also would pour $212 million more into retired teachers’ financially ailing health care plan. Lawmakers would pay for both by pushing into the 2020-21 budget cycle the cost of paying one month of care for Medicaid patients enrolled in managed-care plans.
The Finance Committee approved the bill, 10-3. It now goes to the full Senate.