AUSTIN, Texas -- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Texas, wants to fix education by starting with rewards for teachers.
The "state longevity incentives" would be funded through a redirection of revenue from the Texas Lottery. With voter approval of a Constitutional amendment, Patrick's plan would set aside the first $700 million in lottery revenue.
"We have to thank those teachers who have put in a long career, and we have to encourage those to stay in teaching now or those who are in the middle years to continue because so many teachers drop out," he said. "I know what the schools are going to say: 'You are taking $700 million away from us.' No, we are not. We are just directing it to teachers because you haven't been."
Critics of the plan said this will shift money out of the classroom and force teachers to buy more supplies out of their own pockets.
"If you raise teacher pay, don’t add more funding for schools and cut staff at schools, then that will mean more kids crowded into classrooms," said Chandra Villanueva of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. "Education funding over the years in Texas is not out of control. When adjusted for inflation, we are spending about the same dollar amount per student as we did in 2001. This means no new investments for technology or for additional services, even as the share of students that is economically disadvantaged continues to rise."
Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said school districts have spent years slashing budgets, and this could tie educators' hands even more.
"[Patrick's plan includes] no new dollars," she said. "You either have to make that up with something else--which he is not proposing at this point--or you have to cut."
Patrick dismissed a House plan during the regular session to pump and additional $1.6 billion into public schools. He resumed his attack on the plan Thursday.
"There was no funding in the Speaker's finance plan," Patrick said. "It was a Ponzi scheme."