Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveils school finance reform plan

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Thursday unveiled a plan that he'll introduce in the special session to address education funding and teacher pay. His plan includes diverting some Texas Lottery money to teachers.

Patrick also called an educational bill proposed by Speaker of the House Joe Strauss, his GOP rival, a ponzi scheme.

Patrick used charts and graphs to press his claim that money is being spent on education, just not wisely. He said that education funding has gone up 180 percent and teacher pay has gone up 35 percent since the year 2000.

Patrick called on school districts to redirect five percent of their dollars to teacher pay, saying that it would equate for an $8,000 raise over four years.

The lieutenant governor also would like to see a constitutional amendment that would require most of the $1 billion from the Texas Lottery to go to teachers.

"What the amendment will say is the first $700 million of the lottery will go to pay the longevity bonuses for retired teachers and current teachers," Patrick said. "It's a little under $350 million for retired teachers in total and it's about $350 million for current teachers."

Patrick's proposal has quickly drawn sharp criticism. The president of the Texas State Teachers Association called it "hollow" and Strauss sarcastically said he was encouraged by Patrick's new-found focus on school finance reform.

Patrick hopes to get his constitutional amendment on the ballot in November.

The talk between Patrick and Strauss sets the stage for what could be an emotional special session next week.

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