American Heart Assoc.

Opinion: House passes legislation to reform school finance, property taxes

by | Apr 12, 2019 | Opinion

The Texas House of Representatives on April 3 approved much-anticipated legislation written to revise the state’s public school finance system. The vote was 148-1, and the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 3 would increase pay for public school classroom teachers, librarians and other full-time personnel and also would enable property tax relief. Primarily authored by House Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, R-Houston, joint authors include Reps. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio; John Zerwas, R-Richmond; Ken King, R-Canadian; and Alma Allen, D-Houston.

HB 3’s estimated net cost would be $9.5 billion, covering the fiscal biennium that ends Aug. 31, 2021. In addition to pay increases and incentives, HB 3 would reduce recapture and enable some $2.7 billion in property tax relief. The legislation, among its general provisions, changes the order in which the Foundation School Program is financed so that state-available school funds would be applied before locally generated property tax revenue.

After the House voted, Gov. Greg Abbott applauded lawmakers for their work and said, “Texans are demanding meaningful reforms to our school finance system, and today’s passage of HB 3 in the House is a vital step toward that goal. By reducing recapture, investing more money in our schools and in our teachers, the Legislature is making changes that will have a lasting impact on our education system, and more importantly, our students.”

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, chair of the House Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Education, in an April 3 news release called HB 3 “the bill we have been working for.”

“To the teachers who dedicate their working lives to our kids, who for too long have been under-appreciated and unheard: We hear you, and this bill is for you,” she said.

“In February, House Democrats put forward our Texas Kids First Plan. We laid out a number of key priorities for our vision for the future of public education in Texas. Today, I am pleased to say that this bill incorporates most of those priorities.

“House Bill 3 is an example of what happens when we come together — Democrats and Republicans — and instead of fighting about our different visions, speak honestly about what we want and what we can achieve together. We can expect and can tolerate no less,” Hinojosa added.

Both houses must agree
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee on April 3 unanimously approved a budget bill that matches the House’s appropriation on two of the session’s top priorities: education finance and property tax reform. 

A report filed by the Senate News Service points out that while the House and Senate have settled on $9 billion in additional funding toward those priorities, exactly how the funds would be spent is still up for debate.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said, “We continue to negotiate this issue with the House, but both chambers have now reached $9 billion set aside for whatever agreement we reach.”

Revenue increase noted
State sales tax revenue totaled $2.6 billion last month, an amount 9 percent greater than the amount calculated for the month of March 2018, Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar announced April 2.

The comptroller’s office reported increased collections in all major economic sectors, including retail trade, information services, oil and gas and restaurants. “Much of the increase stemmed more from consumer spending rather than business spending,” Hegar said.

Furthermore, total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in March 2019 was up 7.3 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to agency statistics.

RRC marks anniversary
On March 31, 1919, the Texas Legislature enacted a statute giving the Texas Railroad Commission regulatory authority over the oil and gas industry in the Lone Star State.

Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick wrote an April 1 editorial commemorating the milestone. Among the points she made was that the commission’s well-plugging program is hitting historic numbers. In fiscal years 2018-2019, the Texas Legislature set a performance goal for the agency to plug 1,958 abandoned wells. However, Craddick said, the commission is on track to plug about 3,000. Craddick pointed out that funds to plug the wells come from fees paid by the energy industry, not from Texas taxpayers.

Ed Sterling is the member services director for the Texas Press Association. His column is a weekly aggregation of news about the state’s government.

For more opinion pieces like this subscribe in print or online.

American Heart Assoc.

0 Comments

Related News

The Lawn Moore

The Lawn Moore

America really is The Land of Opportunity. Even if there’s only one opportunity, and that opportunity is cutting the grass.  Ashdown, Arkansas, was a pretty typical small American town in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kids weren’t just handed things. If we wanted...

read more
A myth understanding

A myth understanding

In the South, we believed with all of our hearts what we were told when we were children. Even if it was wrong. In the 1960s, the RCA color console TV my family had on Beech Street in Ashdown, Arkansas, could make you go blind. It could if you believed what our mom...

read more
On the road again and again

On the road again and again

Back in the 60s, some American college kids protested the Vietnam War, but mostly, they conducted sit-ins. Few protests were violent. Other American college kids would have contests to see how many of them they could cram into a Volkswagen. Today, some college kids...

read more
Aisle be seeing you

Aisle be seeing you

As a child growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, we had two main grocery stores. Shur-Way and Piggly Wiggly. Or as my dad called it, “Hoggly Woggly.” A trip to the store was like each TV commercial had come to life. Advertising agencies at the time were very good at what...

read more
Just plane fun

Just plane fun

My wife and I are scheduled for an Alaskan cruise in the fall. By all accounts, it’s something to which we should look forward. I’ve been told the same thing about other trips, including a Vegas excursion that included a stay at a strip motel that still had beds that...

read more
Fixer Uppers

Fixer Uppers

Recently, I saw something I haven’t seen in many years. A young man driving a car he was fixing up. It was an older Mustang. By older I mean a 90’s model. The car had spots of primer, there were a few dents, and the exhaust system appeared to be loose. By John Moore...

read more
Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

When this newspaper column began in 2014, my wife asked me a question. Wife: “How long do you intend to write this column?” Me: “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’ll write 500 of them and then hang it up. This column is number 500. By Bob Moore For more stories about the...

read more
Don’t eat that

Don’t eat that

When I was a kid, I had to sneak around if I wanted to eat certain things. Now that I’m an adult and in charge, I still have to sneak around if I want to eat certain things. I miss the days when no one knew anything about gluten, trans fats, cholesterol,...

read more
Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that six of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the United States from 2022 to 2023 were in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, Kaufman County, just east of Dallas, led the list with a 7.6% increase in new...

read more
Read this. Build a stronger community.

Read this. Build a stronger community.

Saddened. Embarrassed. Determined. These three words evoke distinct feelings and emotions. In the context of an opinion piece we ran in the paper four and a half years ago, they described the aftermath of a community that lost its newspaper. After 130 years in...

read more
Subscribe 300x250 - Love