Texas teachers may be breathing a sigh of relief today after learning that the Texas Senate has passed a bill that would give them (and their librarian peers) a $5,000 raise, but the measure still needs the approval of the House.

The Senate passed its first bill of this session Monday, which would Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson said would provide teachers with the first meaningful pay raise in 20 years.

The bill would cost the state $4 billion next biennium: $3.7 billion to pay for the raises (which would go to around 350,000 teachers statewide) and $240 million in additional pension costs. An amendment added to the bill by Nelson allocates $53 million to give librarians a rise in pay as well.

"The one thing we should do, first and foremost, is to recognize the need to uplift our entire teaching profession," Nelson said.

Nelson added that, should the bill become law, it will not preclude additional effectiveness-based pay schedules expected to appear in future school financing legislation.

According to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, most teachers make between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, which includes bonuses and incentives.

If the measure passes the House and is signed into law, that yearly income will go up beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

In his State of the State address on February 5, Texas Governor Greg Abbott named teacher pay raises as an emergency item along with school finance reform and property tax relief. Given that school finance depends heavily upon property taxes, it will be interesting to see what the Texas legislature will propose in hopes of addressing Abbott's top priorities.

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