After the Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year $250 billion state budget Tuesday, school districts, education associations, and corporations are lobbying the Legislature to release federal funds to Texas schools in response to pandemic-related losses.
The Senate’s budget includes $117.9 billion in general revenue, but does not account for the $38.6 billion federal COVID-19 relief, $12.4 billion of which is designated for the state’s public schools. It now heads to the House, which filed a separate two-year budget proposal in January.
State Sen. Jane Nelson (R) described the budget as “meet[ing] the essential needs of the growing state” and “hold[ing] true to the principles of fiscal responsibility that make Texas strong and successful.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also praised the budget: “SB 1 will help ensure that the economic forecast for Texas will continue to be bright.”
However, school districts, education associations, and corporations have expressed disappointment that federal aid would not reach state schools crippled by the impacts of the pandemic on education. Among them, H-E-B grocery chain CEO Charles Butt has urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to make those funds available.
Education advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas—founded by Butt—is joined by Texas State Teachers and other groups have raised concerns about the learning loss suffered as a result of the pandemic.
“These funds are badly needed by our Texas students to address the learning loss suffered as a result of the pandemic,” Butt wrote in a letter to the governor on Tuesday. “Using the money to fill other budget shortfalls would be extremely disappointing and a disservice to our students.”