March 30, 2007
Budget moves forward with a pay raise for teachers

After the opening snuff of multiple Democratic amendments, things got better from a Democratic perspective as an amendment to give teachers an across-the-board pay raise as part of the budget bill.

"Bottom line, members, do we want to give teachers a pay raise?'' asked Rep. Rick Noriega. He offered the proposal to shift $583 million in funding from the incentive programs to the raise for teachers and other school personnel.

The Houston Democrat's proposal passed 90-56 in the Republican-dominated House, which gave approval to the overall budget with a vote of 129-14 after 3 a.m. today. Now it goes to the Senate for consideration.

Defenders of the incentive programs -- including top GOP budget-writers -- worked hard to try to ward off the provision. They argued the switch could work against deserving teachers, provide a raise that's less than intended and cost deserving campuses money.

Perry earlier Thursday, before the incentives were cut, had singled them out for praise: "I think the performance pay that is in this budget will put Texas at the top of the heap from the standpoint of a really strong, powerful message about competition in our public schools."

Those who supported the pay raise said money for the incentive programs could be restored later. But, said Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, "This is the only time this session you will be able to vote for a pay raise for your teachers back home."

Although the move still could be changed as the budget goes through the process in the House and Senate, it was a dramatic stand against the position of GOP budget writers on House Speaker Tom Craddick's leadership team, including Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, Appropriations Committee chairman.

We all know how well the incentive pay thing went over here in Houston, right? Like Burka, I don't necessarily think that incentive pay is per se a bad thing. My company gives out year-end bonuses that are determined in part by one's performance (and by the company's performance and some other factors). But it also gives out regular base-salary raises, and most of us get them annually. We're all clear on why people were cranky about this, and why there was so much political will to do something about it, right? Look at some of the Rs who supported this. This wasn't a rebellion so much as it was reality.

I'm getting to this very late (today was a busy day for me), so let me just point you to Vince's exhaustive listing of relevant amendments and how they were voted on, the Observer on Rep. Laubenberg's controversial CHIP amendment (later withdrawn), BOR's budget recap, and Burka on how the teacher pay raise passed, and how the ParentPAC Republicans voted. See you tomorrow.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 30, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo