Updated at 12:38 p.m. to include new information.
Carroll ISD administrators are currently anticipating a $2.1 million budget deficit for the 2019-20 school year, but that could change to a $3.5 million surplus if House Bill 3 is signed into law, according to a staff presentation during its May 6 school board meeting.
The Texas Senate approved a version of House Bill 3 on May 6. Part of what this bill would do is invest billions of additional dollars to public education, according to a same-day news release from the Center for Public Policy Priorities. It would also lower property tax bills.
“House Bill 3 would require districts to decrease their tax rates,” said Scott Wrehe, the assistant superintendent for financial services.
CISD’s current maintenance and operations tax rate is $1.04 per $100 valuation, Wrehe said. House Bill 3 would have it lowered to $1.00 per $100 valuation. This does not include the debt service tax rate.
The Senate-approved HB 3 would also give teachers and librarians a $5,000 pay raise and fund full-day prekindergarten programs for low-income students, according to The Texas Tribune, Community Impact Newspaper’s reporting partner. The House and Senate will have to negotiate over differences in the bill in a conference committee before it can be signed into law.
“The bottom line right now, based on the information we had last week, our current law budget would have a deficit of $2.1 million,” Wrehe said. “Under House Bill 3, we would have a surplus of $3.5 million.”
Under the current system, CISD is also facing challenges with decreased state funding and increased payments to the state under the “Robin Hood” plan, in which certain school districts share their local tax revenue with other school districts.
Budget details are preliminary and will change as the school district receives more information throughout the planning process, Wrehe said.
Taxable property value in CISD is expected to increase 11.7% from the current school year, according to meeting documents.
The district estimates 2019-20 general fund expenditures will amount to about $123 million, according to preliminary budget data.
Instructional costs make up the bulk of the budget at $44.8 million, and the second-biggest expenditure is expected to be CISD’s recapture payment, according to preliminary budget documents. The district calculates the recapture payment will be about $40.2 million.
If signed into law, HB 3 would decrease both school districts’ recapture payments and their dependence on local property tax revenue, Wrehe said.
“My fear is that they’ll be able to say, ‘We gave districts more money,’ but there’ll be strings attached to it,” Wrehe said.