Proposed bill directs $9 billion towards statewide school finance, property tax reform

Members of the Texas House of Representatives gathered at a news conference March 5 in support of House Bill 3.

Members of the Texas House of Representatives gathered at a news conference March 5 in support of House Bill 3.

A newly-filed school finance reform bill in the 86th Texas Legislature—House Bill 3—aims to restructure the state’s school finance system by directing $9 billion towards Texas school funding and lowering school property taxes.

HB 3, which was filed by Public Education Chairman Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, on March 5, would add $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years and lower school districts’ property tax rates by 4 cents, among other policy items, according to a news release from the office of Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.

Other details of the bill include raising the basic allotment, or the amount that every school district is guaranteed to receive in state and local funds for each student, from $5,140 to $6,030—an $890 increase per student. HB 3 would also reduce reliance on the Robin Hood Fund, or the state’s recapture system, from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion for the biennium by lowering school property tax rates, according to the news release.

The bill would also raise the minimum teacher salary schedule and allocate an additional $140 million for a teacher quality program, as well as establish an early reading program that funds pre-K for low-income students.

"I am so proud of the Texas House for taking us one step closer to passing transformational school finance legislation because Texas children can no longer wait for action—the time is now," Bonnen said in a statement. "Chairman Huberty, the Public Education Committee and the members of the Texas House have worked tirelessly to compose this thoughtful legislation that is built upon years of research, data and testimony.”

Luis Figueroa, the director for Center for Public Policy Priorities, an organization that advocates for policy change, voiced both support and concern for the bill in a March 5 news release.

“This proposal outlines comprehensive and long overdue improvements that form a good start toward remodeling our school finance system," Figueroa said in a statement. "We do have some notable concerns, however. As we make changes to how we fund our schools, it’s important to ensure access to resources is equitable across all districts and not based on a student’s ZIP code."

For more information about HB 3, click here.
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