School finance bill awaits Gov's signature

From staff reports

The Texas House and Senate approved legislation Sat. May 25 ushering in teacher pay raises and property tax cuts. HB 3 was passed just days prior to the end of the 86th Texas Legislative Session Monday, May 27 in Austin.

The passage of HB 3 by both the Texas House and Senate followed a related property tax reform bill, SB 2 (See story, Page 1A), which passed just days earlier.

The measure would involve more than $6.5 billion in funding to improve public education and teacher pay. Another $5.1 billion would lower school district taxes overall.

With Gov. Greg Abbott's signature, the law would lower tax rates by an average of 8 cents per $100 valuation in 2020 and 13 cents per $100 valuation in 2021. The tax cut of $200 for

The owner of a $250,000 home in 2020 would see about a $200 tax cut and in 2021 about a $300 cut. The law would call for study which could identify potential sources of money for future tax cuts related to school districts and how those could impact taxpayers, districts and state coffers.

“I know that there is no higher priority than providing our children with a first-class education. I have been fighting to empower parents in their children’s education, and for our state to spend more dollars in the classroom, since even before I was elected to the Senate,” State Sen. Dawn Buckingham said in a statement.

House Bill 3 “will provide transformative reforms to public education in Texas, while also providing billions of dollars in both tax relief and increased teacher compensation,” Buckingham added.

The negotiated bill would require school districts to use a portion of their increase in funding per student on on salary and benefit increases, with an amount for across-the-board raises at the administration discretion. Tteachers with more than five years of experience would be the priority.

HB 3 also has triggers to lower school district tax rates over the next two years; cap growth in tax revenue in certain circumstances.

Prior to HB 3 passage, members of both the House and Senate raised concerns that the state could suffer long-term issues due to an inability to afford the changes.

The Texas House voted 139-0 and the Senate voted 30-0 to approve the final version.

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