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AUSTIN, Texas -- Several of the items Gov. Greg Abbott wants to tackle in the Special Session focus on education. They make up a fourth of the list of 20 items he announced publicly Tuesday.
"I want legislation on my desk that increases teacher pay by $1,000," Abbott said.
Gov. Abbott said increasing teacher pay would attract more eligible teachers into the classroom and allow Texas schools, which he believes will in turn improve education. Abbott said school districts should be able to accomplish his request by "reprioritizing" their existing budgets.
"We should be raising standards, and we should be expecting the most out of our teachers and our students," said Kate Kuhlmann, a lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators. "We should be regularly ensuring they can get the best education they can get, but it costs money."
Kuhlmann said Texas lawmakers still aren't doing their part to reform the state's school finance system. A court ruled last year it is barely constitutional. School taxes make up the largest chunk of almost every Texas property tax bill.
"Adequately funding education at the state level will really shift the burden off of local taxpayers," Kuhlmann said.
Abbott wants lawmakers to create a commission that will be focused on school finance reform while lawmakers are on break between now and 2019.
"The commission will work throughout the interim on solutions to our failed Robin Hood Program," Abbott said.
Abbott also wants school vouchers for students with special needs. Attempts to pass that died during the regular Legislative Session when the Senate expanded the program to include private schools. Kuhlmann worries the State Senate could try its plan again, or expand school vouchers to all Texas children.
"Sending public tax dollars to private entities without accountability, transparency and so forth," she said.
The Special Session will start July 18th. Gov. Abbott wants it to be as short as possible. Lawmakers are limited to 30 days.
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