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March 14, 2017      4:06 PM

House makes its choices on education priorities

Maintaining an additional $1.5 billion for public schools; pre-k funds disbursed over the entire state, and not the grants preferred by Gov. Greg Abbott

House Appropriations has maintained much of the bill language of House Bill 1 as it powered through choices for public and higher education: an additional $1.5 billion for public schools, contingent on reform; pre-k funds disbursed over the entire state, and not the grants preferred by Gov. Greg Abbott; and a commitment to return stability to the healthcare of retired teachers.

Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, who chaired the Article III work group, called his work group’s budget thoughtful, in light of the tighter budget cycle. The real question mark right now is how the House intends to fix TRS-Care, the healthcare fund for retired teachers which is now about $1 billion away from actuarial soundness.

“Inaction is not an option,” Ashby told the full committee. “We’re going to have to do something with TRS-Care this session.”

An interim fix could be folded into the supplemental or be part of the regular budget, which Ashby admitted would be “tight.”

By Kimberly Reeves

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