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Relating to public school finance and public education; authorizing the imposition of a fee.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB3, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($15,509,719,780) through the biennium ending August 31, 2021.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
In summary, CSHB would increase funding per student, increase teacher pay, provide money for full-day pre-K for low-income students, and allow for long-term property tax relief. It includes a $5,000 across-the-board raise for full-time classroom teachers and librarians, funding for districts that want to pay higher-rated teachers more, money for districts with better student academic outcomes, and a few different long-term property tax relief proposals.
CSHB 3 is an attempt to better balance the shared costs of the Foundation School Program between the State and School Districts while fulfilling several of the goals of the Commission on Public School Finance. The bill would increase several existing allotments, such as bilingual education and free full-day pre-k, while creating entirely new allotments, such as for dyslexia and for effective teachers. CSHB 3 also increases the basic allotment and adjusts funding formulas to increase the state share in costs.
Additionally, HB 3 would remove Austin ISD as the standard for wealth per student. The bill would also modify the state maximum compressed tax rate. Recapture would be reduced by $3.3 billion in the biennium.
The bill would require school districts to perform an efficiency audit prior to asking voters to approve a tax rate for the maintenance and operation fund.
The bill would create an Teacher Incentive Allotment to incentivize quality educators to teach in rural schools, at campuses identified as high needs campuses, and in areas suffering a critical shortage of teachers.
The bill would provide approximately $2.7 billion in property tax relief over the upcoming biennium.
Finally, CSHB 3 would make a number of administrative and reporting changes. Some of the decision-making powers for implementing the Foundation School Program would be transferred to the Commissioner of the TEA from the State Board of Education. Additionally, each school district would be required to create an early childhood literacy and mathematics proficiency plan in an effort to get every student to an on-grade reading level by the third grade.
The Senate added the following changes: a classroom and librarian pay raise of $5,000; A teacher designation of recognized, exemplary, and master that also includes a salary bonus; the commissioner would be able to collect a fee on school districts when authorized to make these designations; a requirement for high school seniors to apply for financial aid through FAFSA or TAFSA in order to graduate; a bonus for schools that have certain students reach third grade reading goals and career, college, and military readiness levels; an allotment for fast growing schools; and codifying 60x30TX goals.
The bill also provides that long-term property tax relief would be contingent on a long-term funding source.
Note that this is a summary of a lengthy (116 page) and complex bill. Our purpose here is to highlight in broad strokes major provisions of the bill. We encourage readers who wish to gain a more in-depth understanding of the particulars of this legislation to read the full fiscal note prepared by the Legislative Budget Board.
As it relates to our liberty principles, this bill is a mixed bag.
We do not support expanding public pre-k and across-the-board raises for teachers and librarians that do not incentivize or reward merit.
On the other hand, there are some things we support about this bill. We support using pay incentives to encourage quality educators to teach in districts and on campuses which they may otherwise not be attracted to. We do support funding for districts that want to pay higher-rated teachers more money, as well as funding for districts with better student academic outcomes. We support meaningful, long-term property relief.
We recognize that this bill represents one part of an ongoing discussion within the legislature and that the other chamber has a significantly different approach to some of these issues. It is likely that regardless of what happens on the Senate floor on May 2nd, the bill that eventually makes it to the governor's desk will likely be quite different. We will offer our recommendation on school finance reform when the final bill is ready to be voted on and sent to the governor.