The 85th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10, 2017. For 140 days, lawmakers will debate thousands of bills, including many dealing with public education. ATPE’s lobbyists will be there to advocate for educators and students. ATPE has outlined seven priorities for the legislative session that include improving school finance and funding educators’ healthcare needs; preserving educators’ right to use payroll deduction for their association dues; and making sure the public funds we need for public education are not wasted on vouchers and “education savings accounts” that subsidize unregulated private and home schools.
Sadly, at least one high-ranking elected official has different priorities in mind for this session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has outlined 20 priorities he wants the Texas Senate to adopt in 2017. They include establishing private school vouchers, tax cuts and spending caps that will limit the money available for public education, and restricting how unions and associations that represent public employees collect their dues. While there arguably are some important issues on Patrick’s priority list, such as keeping police officers safe and preventing child abuse, it’s unfortunate that so much of the Senate’s energy will be devoted to wasteful causes like vouchers and prohibiting payroll deduction.
More than ever, ATPE members must engage with lawmakers on the real priorities that will help—not hurt—education, and one of the best ways to participate is by attending our next lobby day event. “ATPE at the Capitol” is scheduled for March 5-6, 2017, and registration will open in early December. Watch for updates and full details in the coming weeks. We’ll see you at the Capitol!
Follow ATPE on Facebook and read our blog at TeachTheVote.org for more legislative updates.
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