The biggest news this week was the House’s approval of a sweeping $9 billion plan to reform the state’s school finance system. The bill included increased funding for school districts, directed increases for teacher pay, and provided additional funding for pre-kindergarten education. School finance reform has been at the top of lawmakers’ priorities this session and was named an emergency item by Governor Greg Abbott.
House Passes HB 3. On Wednesday, after more than three hours of discussion and debate, the Texas House passed HB 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), the House’s plan to reform school funding and rein in the growth of property taxes. In total, HB 3 would invest more than $9 billion in student achievement, and teacher quality. Of that, about $6.3 billion would go directly to schools and $2.7 billion would go toward funding for programs like pre-K education, special needs and dual-language education, and increasing teacher pay. Some of the more significant features of HB 3 include:
- An increase in the basic allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, resulting in a per-student increase in base funding of about $890;
- A reduction in recapture payments of more than 38%;
- The establishment of a program to fund full-day Pre-K education for low-income students, with money targeted toward districts with higher concentrations of underserved students;
- Increased funding for research-based programs like dual-language immersion, dyslexia identification, and expanded career and technology education programs.
The bill also includes changes meant to allow school districts to keep more money from local property taxes, a measure meant to reduce the burden on local taxpayers. While the original version of the bill did not include an across-the-board teacher pay raise like the Senate plan, lawmakers successfully pushed to include an amendment by Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) that would require school districts to use some of the new funding to provide pay raises for all full-time school employees, except administrators.
HB 3 passed the House on a vote of 148-1. The bill will now head to the Senate, where Senators have already passed pieces of their own education package, but last week voted to increase spending on education and tax relief to match the House’s plan.
Upcoming dates of interest.
- Monday, May 6: Last day for house committees to report house bills and house joint resolutions.
- Friday, May 10: Last day for the House to consider consent house bills on 2nd or 3rd reading and all 3rd reading house bills or house joint resolutions on the supplemental calendar.
- Friday, May 17: Last day for the House to consider local house bills on 2nd and 3rd reading, and the first day the Senate can consider bills and resolutions the first day they are posted.
- Saturday, May 18: Last day for house committees to report senate bills and joint resolutions.
- Tuesday, May 21: Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading senate bills and senate joint resolutions on the daily or supplemental calendar.
- Wednesday, May 22: Last day for the House to consider local and consent senate bills on 2nd and 3rd
- Sunday, May 26: Last day for the House and Senate to concur in amendments or adopt conference committee reports.
- Monday, May 27: Last day of 86th Regular Session (sine die).
For more information on the Texas Legislature, visit https://capitol.texas.gov/