By Bill O’Neil
Less than a week ahead of the start of a special session of the Texas Legislature, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is putting a big focus on teachers across the Lone Star State.
Patrick is calling for the Legislature to pass his plan for what he describes as “longevity” bonuses.
“Teachers with six to ten years of experience will get a $600 state longevity bonus. Teachers currently teaching with 11-years or more will get a $1000 bonus every year” Patrick said in detailing his proposal at the Capitol in Austin Thursday.
Retired teachers would get yearly bonuses through a similar structure.
The Lieutenant Governor is hoping to be able to pay for it through revenue collected by the Texas Lottery. To do that, he’s hoping to get a question on the ballot this year for voters to consider.
“The first $700 million of the lottery will go to pay for the longevity bonuses of retired teachers and current teachers” Patrick said, also calling on school districts around the State to dedicate 5% more of the cash they are collecting to teachers.
“They (school districts) have to be better at how they spend the money… and they have to put more focus… as what the Governor is calling in his plan for raising teacher salaries… they have to put more focus on teachers. They have to prioritize how they spend the money” Patrick said.
Overall, the Lieutenant Governor said he supports each of the twenty items Governor Greg Abbott has placed before the Legislature for the 30-day session.
“Property taxes… the most important issue we have to address this session. They must pass… we must have a rollback.. we must have an automatic election” Patrick said.
He also spent some time taking shots at House Speaker Joe Straus over education funding plans–then saying he’s hoping to have a better working relationship with Straus during the upcoming session.
“I’ve never had a one on one with the Speaker the entire session–or since the session ended” Patrick said.