Does the “Fully Fund our Future” act live up to the hype?

By Ashley Bean Thornton

Yesterday (October 19, 2023) Representative Gina Hinojosa (D), from Austin filed HB 177, which she and her supporters have dubbed the “Fully Fund our Future” act.   The email I received from the Texas Democrats this morning claims the bill…

  • Raises teacher pay by $15,000
  • Reduces Classroom sizes
  • Hires more school counselors
  • Closes the Special Education Funding Gap
  • Increases school safety and mental health funding

I waded through the text of the bill. I agree with it, and I would love to see it pass, but I don’t see how it necessarily does all of the above.  Here’s what I think it says.

Increase the basic allotment – To me, the key provision in the bill is a permanent increase to the basic per student allotment. The bill proposes…

    • Increase the basic per student allotment from $6,160 per student to $8,947
    • Require that the basic allotment must increase annually, if necessary, to keep up with the rate of inflation (as determined by the comptroller).
    • Require that 40% of any increase in the basic allotment must go to increasing pay for full time school employees, with 75% of that going to increasing pay for teachers, librarians, counselors and school nurses. Teachers with 5+ years of experience would be prioritized for receiving increases.

It also proposes several one-time payments…

One-time employee bonuses for the 2023-24 school year –

    • $15,000 for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses.
    • $5,500 for other school staff

One time gap funding for special education

    • Any school district that spent more on special ed than they received from the state in the 2023-24 school year would receive twice that difference for the 2024-25 school year.

One time gap funding for safety and security

    • Any school district that spent more on safety and security than they received from the state in the 2023-24 school year, would be entitled to receive additional funding in 2024-25 equal to that difference.

One-time Pandemic grant

    • For the 2023-24 school year, each school district would get $800 per student to make sure the district can address educational needs following the Covid-19 pandemic.

My take:  The increase to the basic allotment is significant. Would that provide for on-going $15,000 teacher raises, smaller classes, more counselors and the other things being touted?  That’s not clear to me.  It almost feels like they are claiming a one-time bonus as an on-going raise.  Am I understanding that incorrectly?


Leave a Comment