Known details of the Texas school finance (HB3) package

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedThis is a challenge as I’m writing this on Friday to give you some detail of a bill, HB3 – the school finance bill, before it actually passes the Legislature and you’ll be reading this after the regular Texas legislative session has ended.

The cost is a whopping $11.6 billion with $6.5 billion of that being new money to public schools and $5.1 billion of state money going to local school districts to replace funds lost from a push-down, or compression, of local property taxes. This means about 44% of the $11.6 billion is dedicated to lowering local school property taxes which will phase in over 2020 and 2021.

about 44% of the $11.6 billion is dedicated to lowering local school property taxes

The property-wealth, or Robin Hood, payments would be reduced by 47% with the state coffers making up the difference to the payment receiving districts.

Beginning in 2021, school districts will be subject to a limit of 2.5% growth in local property tax revenue no matter how much local appraisals increase. The details of this scheme are not yet clear.

Schools appear to get a significant increase in state funding per pupil of about 20%

Schools appear to get a significant increase in state funding per pupil of about 20%  with rules that a portion of the increase must be spent for salary raises for teachers, librarians, nurses, and counselors. There is also additional funding available to districts that implement merit pay programs.

It’s a lot of money and it’s not clear if the expected new state revenue sources, such as sales tax being collected on all online purchases, will raise enough to pay for it all. We’ll learn that in two years.

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