House Public Education Committee advances fixes to Texas public school finance system

The 85th Texas legislature starts its session on Jan. 10, 2017.

The 85th Texas legislature starts its session on Jan. 10, 2017.

After weeks of debate and expert witnesses testifying how best to alter the funding scheme to public finance, the House Public Education Committee passed a bill out of committee today to do just that.

House Public Education Committee Chairman state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, said this session's bill isn't everything he or other members wanted it to be, but it is a good start.

"This is a culmination of when I first got elected to a school board over 14 years ago and it was under the basis to try and change the finance system in the state of Texas and provide meaningful discretion in the districts," Huberty said. "While we are not there, this is a good first step."

House Bill 21 adjusts the funding formula by allotting an additional $1.65 billion to public education over the next two years, per the bill's fiscal note. Here are some of the other major changes the bill makes:

  • An additional weight for dyslexic students that Huberty says will affect 154,000 students

  • An increased weight for career technical education and technology

  • An increased bilingual adjustment to factor in for the diverse student population

  • A professional development grant for nonprofessional staff

  • Adjustments made to the hardship grant in light of the end of Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction funding


State Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, said changes made to the hardship grant were important because the state didn't always recognize all hardships as equally necessary of state aid.

"Instead of looking at individual losses, that a loss is a loss," King said. "A hardship is a hardship and [this grant] created a lot more winners."

House Bill 21 was voted out of committee in a 10-1 vote, with state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, voting against because the bill would raise the recapture payments of Highland Park ISD, a school district in his area.

The bill will next move to debate on the House floor and then, if approved, face debate in the Senate.

Huberty indicated that neither he nor the Texas legislature are done with the issue.

"I know that we didn’t help everybody, and we tried to do the best we can," he said.
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