HB3 Education reform could add money to schools, lower property taxes

Dan Huberty excitedly explaining legislation related to school finance reform in Austin.
Dan Huberty excitedly explaining legislation related to school finance reform in Austin.

AUSTIN: State Rep. Dan Huberty, R., District 127, has ridden shotgun on a $9 billion school finance reform bill that is to send more state money to public schools and lower school property tax rates, according to lawmakers. To enact the plan, passage is required by both the House and the Senate.

“The Texas Plan” or House Bill 3, has had Huberty hopping around explaining to Republicans and Democrats that a $9 billion increase in the base funding for each student and compressing school districts’ property tax rates by 4 cents statewide, among other policy items is not only possible but necessary. Pre-K for full days for eligible students also benefits, and sending more money to school districts with higher concentrations of disadvantaged students. In his State of the State Address, Governor Abbott named three “emergency items,” they are teacher pay, school finance reform and property taxes reform.

Huberty and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, held a Tuesday news conference with other House members at the Capitol to publicly lay out the proposal. The lawmakers seemingly indicated that the bill would increase the base funding per student by $890 to $6,030. This while lowering school district property tax rates statewide by 4 cents per $100 of taxable property value, to reduce redistribution of money from wealthier school districts to poor ones. That should work out to reduce tax for a $1/4 Million estate by about $100 year.

Senate Bill 3, which would give all full-time classroom teachers and certified librarians a $5,000 pay raise, passed easily, but it will likely face an uphill battle in the House. Bonnen has said he prefers giving local districts the flexibility to use increased funding for teacher pay as they see fit. The House proposal is expected to provide districts with $140 million to help recruit and retain teachers.