Texas House Bill 1548 Under Review To Raise Teacher Salaries


Image by Texas AFT

Texas House Representative James Talarico announces his proposal to raise teacher salaries $15,000 through Texas Bill 1548 during a press conference at the Texas State Capitol. If approved, the bill would make Texas the seventh highest state in terms of teacher salary compensation. “It’s no wonder thousands of teachers are leaving the profession entirely,” Talarico said during the press conference. “So, I’m hopeful that this big bill for a big pay increase for every teacher in Texas will help address that emergency in our classrooms.”

As of Jan. 24, Texas House Bill 1548 is under review by the Texas House of Representatives in order for the state to approve a salary increase for public school teachers. The bill was proposed by Austin Democratic Representative James Talarico and, if approved, it will raise the yearly teacher salary by $15,000 across all state schools. 

Currently, the average teacher salary in Texas is $56,000 and with the proposed bill, the number would increase to $74,000 a year. Along with a pay increase for teachers, the measure also proposes to raise librarian, counselor, school nurse and other school employee salaries by $1,500 per month. 

House Bill 1548 would be the biggest teacher pay raise in Texas history,” Talarico said during a live conference where he announced the proposal. “Teacher quality is the number one most important factor influencing student success. Raising teacher pay to recruit and retain the best and brightest educators is the best investment we can make for our state.”

The bill also intends to increase Texas’ minimum teacher salary schedule. The current minimum state salary is $33,660 and Talarico’s proposal would increase that number to $48,660 based on a 10-month contract for new teachers. 

“Basic teacher pay is something we can do and something we must do,” Talarico said. “I would say the most important job in the world is being a parent, but the second-most important job in the world is being a teacher. It’s also the hardest.”

In order to finance this effort, Talarico plans to utilize $20 billion from a total amount of $47 billion of unused funds in the state. 

“Hoarding this surplus while educators and children are suffering is immoral,” Talarico said. “Our state has $47 billion, billion with a ‘b’. That’s enough to give across the board a $15,000 pay raise for every teacher in Texas. And a 25% increase for support staff still is more than half the surplus left over.” 

Although 41 Texas House Democrats support the bill, some Republicans are concerned about its cost. If approved, Republicans are proposing to make one-time amendments on spending matters, such as education. These amendments need a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

“We’re going to get to a juncture where we may need more than a simple majority to pass something, and that’s when we’ll have something to say about that,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Martinez Fischer said. “So I think you can add [one-time amendments] to the top of our list of things that we want to discuss before we take big votes like that.”

As of now, Texas is $7,652 below the national average for teacher compensation and is ranked 28th in the nation with regards to school personnel salaries. 

“We work well over the 40 hours we are barely paid for,” teacher Deanna Perkins said during the conference when Talarico proposed Texas House Bill 1548. “We attend meetings, plan and grade after our contract hours. When we are sick, we make sub plans at 3 a.m. Educators have always been grossly underpaid and overworked.” 

According to the Texas Education Agency, there were 376,086 teachers in the 2021-2022 school year state-wide. By the end of the year, almost 12% of them left the profession, a 10% leaving increase from the previous school year.  

“We don’t actually have a teacher shortage,” Democrat Texas House Representative Gina Hinojosa said. “The teachers exist. The teachers are here and have chosen to walk away from a profession that undervalues them, that underpays them and under-resources their job.”

According to Talarico, he is currently undergoing negotiations with Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for the approval of House Bill 1548. Because the bill may lower property taxes, Talarico hopes this will create more bipartisan support for the bill. However, he is conscious that compromises will have to be made in order to increase teacher compensation. 

“This is our starting proposal,” Talarico said. “You ask for what you need. You ask for the ideal. Then in this building, sometimes, you find somewhere in the middle.”

As of now, Texas Governor Gregory Abbott has not discussed the proposal with Talarico. The bill will continue to be reviewed for approval in the upcoming months. 

“This moment demands bold action and that’s what our state is known for,” Talarico said. “In Texas, we go big or we go home. Let’s go big on teacher pay.”