Education is the ticket to our children’s future. With more education comes more opportunities to compete for higher paying jobs. But as our school populations are exploding, and college tuition keeps rising, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of Texas schoolchildren. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Senator Hinojosa voted for House Bill (HB) 3, a sweeping and historic school finance bill that greatly increases the state’s investment in our students and teachers.
The highlights of HB3 include:
- An increase in the state’s portion of education funding from 38% to 45%, reducing the burden on local property taxes;
- $6.5 billion statewide for transformational education reform;
- Educator pay raises, including an increase in the minimum salary and a new Teacher Incentive Allotment that provides between $3,000 – $32,000 per year, per high-performing teacher, with higher incentive funding going to high poverty and rural campuses;
- The prioritization of Early Literacy, which requires elementary school teachers to attend the reading academies and be trained on the science of teaching reading;
- Increased access to Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten for all eligible 4-year-old children, with funding through an Early Education Allotment;
- Improving College, Career, and Military Readiness by increasing funding for college prep exams, industry certification exams, career and technical education (CTE) including computer science, and funds innovative high school models designed to help students graduate with an associate’s degree; and
- More equitable funding with increased funding for low-income students in the highest poverty areas.
Throughout his time in the Texas Legislature, Senator Hinojosa has championed education. He co-authored Senate Bill 22 in the 85th Legislative Session which established a work-based, dual-credit education program designed to make more tech-related college courses available to high school students around the state. Through the P-TECH (Pathways to Technology Early College High School) Program, partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and industry enable students to obtain both a high school diploma and associate’s degree or certification in six years. He also sponsored House Bill 728 which created a program to allow computer science courses to count toward a student’s required advanced math or advanced science credit, encouraging students to develop valuable skills that would expand opportunities after high school.
Previously, Senator Hinojosa has supported legislation to reform public school education by reducing the number of high-stakes tests from 15 to 5 that students must take to graduate and changes the courses needed to earn a diploma. He believes that students should focus on learning in the classroom and teachers should not have to just teach to the test.
Senator Hinojosa supports Career Technical Education (CTE) because the workforce has great demand for “middle jobs” that require no bachelor’s degree but necessitate training beyond high school. CTE provides those skills needed for those jobs through employer-based training and industry-based certifications. Similarly, Senator Hinojosa passed legislation to create a joint interim committee to study education policy as it relates to developing a skilled workforce and to explore topics like curriculum requirements, opportunities for new education-workforce partnerships and the impact of emerging industrial sectors.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has worked across party lines to protect teacher jobs and keep a college education within reach of working families.
During the most recent legislative session, Senator Hinojosa helped craft a budget which increases public education grants for the 2020-2021 Biennium. This includes:
- $61 million for Communities in Schools ($22.2 million difference from 2018-19 Budget);
- $11 million for Teach for America; and
- $4.5 million for Texas Academic Innovation and Mentoring (AIM).
Further, Senator Hinojosa has consistently supported financial aid. In 2019, he helped secure $866 million in financial aid for the TEXAS Grant program to ensure 70% of eligible students receive a $5,000 award for 2020-2021 biennium ($80 million increase from 2018-2019 biennium). In 2015, Senator Hinojosa helped secure $786 million in financial aid for the TEXAS Grant program to serve 92% of all eligible residents ($71 million increase from 2014-2015 biennium). In 2013, he helped restore $724.6 million in funding for college financial aid through Texas Grants for 2014-2015 biennium, an increase of $145 million from the prior budget.