AUSTIN - Teachers would get about $425 more a year under a state budget agreement forged late Thursday by House and Senate budget writers.
The amount, which also applies to school counselors, librarians and nurses, is about half of the pay raise in the budget proposal that the House adopted in March.
With less than two weeks left in the 140-day legislative session, House and Senate leaders are working to negotiate a compromise between the two versions of the $150 billion, two-year state budget.
The Senate version, which was adopted in that chamber in April, did not include any money for an across-the-board teacher pay raise, but put in $580 million for teacher incentive-pay programs.
Teachers groups have long opposed incentive-pay initiatives, which first surfaced in Texas when Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order in 2005 that directed about $10 million to teacher performance bonuses.
The compromise plan being negotiated also includes more money for incentive pay to reward teachers for high achievement.
Enough money for the raises would go to school districts, but some lawmakers questioned whether school administrators would be required to spend it on teacher pay.
Teachers got a $2,000 salary hike last year.
Among other agreements reached Thursday, negotiators also agreed to spend $20 million for in-school physical education programs.
“This is designed to improve the health of our children in public schools,” said Sen. Robert Duncan, a Lubbock Republican.
Earlier this week, the panel also agreed to strip a prohibition on private school vouchers that the House adopted in their spending plan.
But some House Democrats worried that private school tuition vouchers could still be instituted by an order from the governor or state education commissioner if the law does not explicitly ban them.
“That’s an issue that needs to be vetted outside the budget,” Duncan said. “I’m opposed to them. I’ll vote no on vouchers every time, but I don’t think the budget is an appropriate place.”
Negotiators discussed the voucher prohibition again Thursday, but decided to keep it out of the budget.
The budget is House Bill 1.