CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — House Bill 1548 was filed Tuesday in the state legislature and could provide a $15,000 pay raise for teachers and school support staff.
Education will be a big part of the legislative session as districts across the state of Texas struggle to hire teachers.
The new bill would set a minimum salary for Texas teachers at $70,000 a year.
"We have an emergency teacher shortage in the state and it requires emergency action," said State Representative James Talarico of Austin.
Talarico was surrounded by members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus as he filed HB 1548 Tuesday.
"Our state has a $47 billion dollar surplus, billion with a b, that's enough to give across the board $15,000 pay raise for every teacher in Texas. And 25 percent increase for support staff still have more than half the surplus left over," he said.
Local State Representative Abel Herrero issued a statement to 3NEWS that reads:
The State of Texas must offer competitive pay and benefits to ensure we can retain and recruit the best and brightest educators. I look forward to having this important conversation with my colleagues and doing everything possible to fully compensate our educators for their hard work. Working in public education should not burden those who selflessly dedicate their lives to preparing our students.
Among those at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers on education issues was local C-Cause President Susie Luna Saldana.
"I think it would be wonderful if it were to happen. It's a possibility only if the Governor comes on board with it," she said. "It's a huge pay raise but it's what our teachers need."
"Do you realize how many teachers we are losing, losing them in groves, brand new teachers who have told me 'Susie I love you but I can't do it,'" she said.
Angelica Garcia is a retired teacher and said that addressing the needs of educators is long overdo but its not just about the pay.
Garcia was an educator for 37 years and said the everyday stresses she experienced prompted her to take a $12,000 pay cut to retire.
"It's not about the money. That's great, I'm sure they can use it, I know they can use it, that is not the only component you need to look at. What COVID-19 showed us is that all the kids are not at the same level," she said.
There are more than 250 bills related to education that have been filed by house and senate members.
A spokesperson for CCISD shared this statement:
Corpus Christi ISD is aware that more than 250 bills related to education have been filed by House and Senate members. Like public school districts around the state, CCISD will be following the 88th session of the Texas Legislature and communicating regularly with our representatives to ensure they have complete, accurate information about our district and the good work being done in public school districts statewide. Certainly, our priorities include educator recruitment and retention. We are finalizing the priorities that were approved, with minor modifications, by CCISD’s board during the Jan. 23 meeting, and will share them later this week.
This as district leaders finalize their own legislative priorities. They too plan to travel to Austin during the legislative session.
If passed, HB 1548 would make Texas the seventh highest state in teacher pay.