Lawmakers approve HB 3 to overhaul school finance system

Posted at 3:50 PM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 23:19:36-04

AUSTIN, TX — Lawmakers have approved House Bill 3, which overhauls the school finance system.

The latest version of the bill gives full-time teachers and librarians a $5,000 dollar pay raise and finance full-day Pre-K for low-income students.

The bill also looks to lower property tax bills, a chief funding mechanism that funnels money into the education system.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement on Tuesday following the passage of House Bill 3:

"I congratulate Sen. Taylor and the Texas Senate on the passage of this monumental and historic education reform bill. House Bill 3 will transform our public schools with cutting edge strategies that ensure that all our students can achieve their dreams and compete in the global marketplace. It will provide every teacher in Texas with a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise and it will rein in crippling property taxes and provide a sustainable framework for school finance.

Sen. Taylor’s leadership on this important legislation over the past year and his diligent commitment to the work of the school finance commission is a great contribution to the future of Texas and the future of our children. The passage of this landmark legislation is one of the proudest moments I have ever experienced in the Senate Chamber."

State Senator Donna Campbell, M.D. echoed much of Patrick’s feelings toward the bill.

"The need for meaningful school finance reform is real and the need to pass it for our children is urgent. Coming into this session, there were three items I felt were essential to a successful school finance bill. They are property tax relief, teacher pay raises, and a transition away from Robin Hood. The version of House Bill 3 I voted for today achieves that. While there are improvements I'd still like to see, some concerns were eased with the passage of efficiency audits. The efficiency amendment adds transparency and accountability to school finance reform by requiring school districts to look for efficiencies and report their finding before they can hold an election to raise the tax rate. This will make our schools better and ultimately save taxpayers money."

But some still have reservations. The bill would also impact state testing.

“Senate passes HB 3 with objectionable merit pay system with an over reliance on high stakes testing and increases the number of high stakes tests unnecessarily. The $5,000 across the board pay raise was made stronger with pass through language amended to the bill. Only includes full time teachers and librarians. Attempts to include nurses, counselors, and all other employees did not make it into the Senate’s version of the bill,” the organization said in a statement on social media.

Both the House and Senate will negotiate how to fund teacher pay raises and property tax relief. The next stop for this version of the bill is to head back to House to approve changes.

The Senate appears to have distanced themselves in this latest bill from a resolution that would increase sales tax to fund the initiative.