AUSTIN, TX – Texas lawmakers agreed on how to overhaul school finance and property tax reform with less than a week left in session.
However, details were scant and the text of the legislation, HB 3, has not been released.
In HB 3, both chambers agreed to an influx of $4.5 billion into education above enrollment growth, over $5 billion for property tax relief, and $1.6 billion for a $4,000 pay raises to teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors.
The $4.5 billion increase in education funding will include among other things, an at this moment undefined increase in the basic allotment, merit pay, and fully funding full-day pre-K for low-income kids.
In a press conference today, Greg Abbott claimed HB 3 fulfills all of the commitments on education that he made in his state of the state speech. He said among other things, it increases per-pupil funding, raises teacher pay, and shores up teacher pensions.
On the question of teacher pay, Lt. Gov. Patrick claimed “veteran teachers” will get a total compensation package of $4,000. This includes $1.6 billion per biennium for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses, and an average of $510 per educator in TRS contributions. SB 12 also provides $412 per school employee in TRS contributions.
Also in the conference version of HB 3 is $140 million for teacher merit pay and $30 million per year for teachers that participate in extended year programs.
On the property tax relief front, Abbott said there will be an 8 cent tax compression in 2020, a 13 cent tax compression in 2021 and an additional 2.5 percent compression in 2021 going forward. This will allegedly reduce recapture by $3.6 billion, which Speaker Bonnen claimed is a 47 percent reduction.
Patrick claimed the state share of education funding will increase to 45 percent as a result of HB 3. Recall, the current state share of education funding is 36 percent according to the Texas Comptroller, and is expected to decrease to 34.6 percent in 2021 under current law, per February estimates by the Legislative Budget Board.
Bonnen said while the school finance plan does not seek to abolish recapture for equity reasons, the issue of equity among school districts is “resolved” in HB 3.
Reform Austin will continue to report on school finance once the text of the bills are released.