Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has announced that he will approve $1.6 billion to fund pay raises for the state’s teachers.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Abbott touted the pay hikes as part of a spending bill that is expected to reach his desk before state lawmakers adjourn on Monday.
“In the inauguration, I made some pretty bold promises to the people of Texas,” he said, according to the AP. “I said we must reward teachers in school districts that achieve results, we’ve done that. I said we must prioritize spending in the classroom, we’ve done that.”
The announcement comes as state Republicans seek to regain support from teachers ahead of the 2020 elections.
Public school teachers in Texas were not among the thousands to walk out of their classrooms nationwide in recent years, but teachers unions said they made their discontent known at the ballot box in 2018, according to the AP.
The National Education Association reports that teacher salaries in Texas are about $7,000 below the national average, according to the report.
The spending bill, which has not yet been passed, is expected to allocate enough to give raises of about $4,000 to teachers who have spent over five years in the classroom, and more for “exceptional” teachers. School staff and librarians are also expected to receive raises.
Abbott, who was inaugurated to his second term in January, declared teacher pay an “emergency item” for his administration earlier this year. Following that announcement, the Texas Senate voted to approve $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time teachers and librarians.