There’s a new school finance law in Texas: Now what?

The Center for Public Policy Priorities published a report earlier this month on HB 3, here’s what you need to know.

HB 3 is a great first step, but because of the property tax cuts, its new investment in public education isn’t sustainable and will make future improvements a challenging endeavor. Next session will be an uphill battle to ensure the Texas revenue system is capable of meeting all of our state’s needs.

While we took action to renovate our school finance system by increasing early education funding, we continue to fall behind in funding for special education and bilingual/English as a second language programs.

CPPP’s recommendations:

  • Replace the statewide tax compression with an annually adjusted homestead exemption that reflects rising home values. Implement a circuit-breaker program to protect lower-income homeowners.
  • Repeal inequitable tax rate reductions for individual school districts.
  • Subject all golden pennies to recapture to reduce funding inequities.
  • The Legislature should commission an independent study to determine the true costs of providing a high-quality education. Once a cost-based basic allotment is established, it should be adjusted for inflation annually.
  • The Legislature should monitor how labor intensive it is for school districts and the Texas Education Agency to collect and analyze the Census data needed for the compensatory education funding and study if additional adjustments are needed for rural communities.
  • Increase the 10 percent ELL funding weight to reflect the true costs of providing a high-quality bilingual or ESL program.
  • Fund pre-K as a full-day program so that districts can invest the Early Education Allotment in additional strategies that improve outcomes in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
  • Remove the College / Career / Military Readiness bonus for non-economically disadvantaged students or increase the threshold to a greater amount.
  • Adjust the basic allotment for inflation each year to ensure teacher compensation grows with rising costs.