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From the Legislative Budget Board: Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB21, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($1,853,351,923) through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.
The bill would set the minimum basic allotment equal to $5,140. The bill would amend the small district adjustment applied to the basic allotment for districts with boundaries encompassing less than 300 square miles. Beginning in fiscal year 2019, the bill would increase the small district adjustment for these districts each year through fiscal year 2024 until the adjustment is equal to the level currently provided for small districts encompassing 300 or more square miles
The bill would create the Education Savings Account Program, to be administered by the Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA), to provide funding for certain education-related expenses of eligible children who are not otherwise enrolled in a public school. The bill would create the Education Savings Account Program Fund in the General Revenue Fund. The bill would set the eligibility criteria as a child with a disability, who is eligible to attend a public school,and who was enrolled in a public school in this state during the entire preceding year. The bill would require the CPA to deposit into the child's account an amount equal to 90 percent of the state average M&O expenditure per student in the preceding year
HB 21 is a complex bill that would change our state's public school finance system in a number of ways. To keep this a plain language summary we will note a few highlights rather than list all of the bill's provisions. The bill would change transportation funding from being formula based to being part of the school's base allotment. The bill would repeal certain other dedicated funding streams. These costs would be made up for by increasing the statutory minimum basic allotment to $5,140. The bill would add weighted funding for students with dyslexia and would increase the weighted bilingual education allotment.
This bill would enact a grant-based aid system for districts to deal with temporary financial hardships caused by the changes in school funding the bill would create.
Perhaps most significantly, the Senate committee substitute would enact a limited Education Savings Account (ESA) program to offer broader school choices for qualifying parents and students. The program would be for disabled children who meet certain eligibility requirements including a requirement that they have been enrolled in a Texas public school for the entire year prior to enrolling in the program. An ESA would be funded at a level equal to 90% of the state average maintenance and operation (M&O) expenditure per student for the previous year. The school district the child would otherwise have attended would be entitled to an amount equal to 5% of the state average M&O expenditure per student the prior year. In the first year, a program participant would count toward the average daily attendance of the school district they would otherwise attend.
While CSHB 21 is a complex bill with many components, the inclusion of the parental choice component supports our principles of limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility for those parents and students who would be eligible. Our education system must be robust and dynamic in order to adequately meet the educational needs of our growing state population.
The one-size-fits-all school district approach does not have the necessary flexibility to meet the unique and diverse needs of all families and students. We support an "all of the above" approach to K-12 education that supplements the traditional system (which will continue to be used by the majority of students) with alternatives such as expanded charter school access and funding mechanisms which allow education funds to follow the child regardless of the type of school the child attends. This empowers parents and students to choose the model of education that best meets their unique needs. While this bill does not implement school choice statewide for all students it would do so for the population in greatest immediate need of the flexibility that choice will provide.
For these reasons we support HB 21.