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Schools And Cities Cry Foul Over Abbott's Special Session Agenda

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Ryan Poppe
/
Gov. Greg Abbott

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was calling lawmakers back to the state capitol for a special session to accomplish 20 legislative priorities that were left unfinished during the regular session.  

Local school and government officials are especially concerned about the impact that some of those agenda items could have on cities services and teachers.

During a press conference with reporters, Gov. Abbott announced through legislation he’d like to give every Texas public school teacher a $1-thousand raise.  But Dax Gonzalez with the Texas Association of School Boards says without any new state funds added to that directive, schools would be essentially using existing local resources to afford that raise.

“Trying to squeeze an extra thousand dollars per employee, per teacher, out of a budget that already is 85-percent personnel salaries, you’re really asking districts to go beyond where many I think can,” Gonzalez says.

Teacher’s groups like the Association of Texas Professional Educators also oppose the measure and label it an unfunded mandate that will hurt rural school districts who are already financially struggling or at risk of closing. 

The governor’s directive to lawmakers follows the Legislature’s failed attempt to pass a school finance bill during the regular session that would’ve provided 90-percent of all Texas school districts with more state money.

Another set of Abbott’s special session priorities centers on property tax reform and cities abilities to raise enough local revenue from those taxes to pay for essential city services.  San Antonio District 9 City Councilmember Joe Krier says this type of legislation makes it nearly impossible for cities the size of San Antonio to plan for growth and the future.

“The City of San Antonio, frankly, has not increased its property tax rate by more than what this legislation proposes for more than 20 years, but we like other cities feel that it ties our hands and ability to properly fund our police and fire,” Krier explains.

Another one of Abbott’s special session priorities is a ban on transgender bathrooms inside local public schools, a bill that Krier worries if passed would result in the NCAA cancelling its Final Four tournament, set to take place in San Antonio in 2018. 

This summer’s special session begins July 18th.