AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Senate has passed the first bill of the 2019 legislative session, approving a $5,000 annual pay raise for teachers and school librarians.
The measure passed unanimously on Monday and now heads to the state House.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Jane Nelson, would give the state's 350,000 teachers a $5,000 pay raise beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.
If passed, the legislation would cost $1.9-plus billion annually and increase from there.
Statistics show the average teacher pay in Texas lags about $7,300 below the national average.
Teacher protests over low pay started in Oklahoma last year and spread to many other states.
Texas didn't have such large protests, but lawmakers from both parties have vowed to increase classroom pay and funding.
A discrepancy may be that school funding relies heavily on property taxes, which top Republicans have vowed to cut.
Although the pay raises would be for all full-time teachers, including charter school teachers, some state lawmakers, including Gov. Greg Abbott, say they're in favor of merit pay, rather than across the board raises for all teachers.
The bill is among many filed in both the Texas House and Senate, aimed at boosting funding for public schools.
SEE ALSO: Proposed Texas bill would give teachers $5K raise annually
Texas Senate passes bill giving teachers $5,000 raise