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Texas House Passes Transformational School Finance Legislation House Bill 3

State Representative Senfronia Thompson

Texas House Passes Transformational School Finance Legislation House Bill 3, co-authored by State Representative Senfronia Thompson invests $9 billion in Texas classrooms to improve public education and provide property tax relief

AUSTIN, Texas — On April 3, 2019, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 3 — legislation co-authored by Representative Senfronia Thompson — that invests $9 billion in Texas classrooms to boost student achievement, support teacher quality, reduce recapture and provide property tax relief. Following a full day of productive discussion on the House Floor, Rep. Senfronia Thompson voted in support of House Bill 3, which passed the House with 149 votes.

“School teachers and administrators from Aldine, Houston, Humble and Spring Independent School Districts in District 141, as well as many others from across the state, have reached out to me to support HB 3. This bill will give their students a fighting chance for a better education with increased funding,” said Representative Thompson. She added, “I am pleased to be a co-author and I thank Speaker Bonnen and my colleagues who supported this landmark education bill.”

School finance reform is the top priority for the Texas House this session and was declared an “emergency item” by Governor Greg Abbott in his biennial State of the State address. House Bill 3 is the first major rewrite of school finance laws undertaken without the threat of a court order, and it puts a stop to decades of patchwork fixes by creating a more equitable public education system.

Following the passage of House Bill 3, Representative Thompson joined Speaker Dennis Bonnen and dozens of fellow State Representatives at a news conference in the State Capitol. Speaker Bonnen thanked Representative Thompson for coauthoring this monumental legislation and for being at the forefront of championing Texas students and teachers.

“I am so proud of Representative Senfronia Thompson for authoring this legislation and for getting the House one step closer to our goal of transforming the public education system for generations to come,” said Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen. “House Bill 3 is one of the most historic and important pieces of legislation this state has seen in decades because it invests in our children, our teachers and our future workforce. This legislation devotes an unprecedented $9 billion to public education and property tax reduction, and we have Representative Senfronia Thompson to thank for driving it toward the finish line.”

Policy Highlights of House Bill 3:
• Invests in Texas students and teachers by adding approximately $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years;

• Empowers local school districts to put more money in their classrooms by raising the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, an $890 increase per student;

• Devotes $2.7 billion toward property tax reduction;

• Lowers school district property tax rates by an average of 5.5% statewide; • Reduces recapture by 38% this biennium;

• Guarantees that 25% of the new money will go toward increasing compensation for school district employees;

• Requires voters to authorize tax rates above $1.01 in an election (three cents lower than current law). Before going to voters for a tax increase, districts must also conduct an efficiency audit to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly;

• Establishes an early reading program that funds full-day, high quality Pre-K for low-income students, setting the right foundation for students to be able to read at grade level by third grade;

• Allots funding to districts to recruit and retain quality teachers who take on the challenge of teaching at high-needs or rural schools; • Raises the minimum teacher salary schedule;

• Enhances the yield on the “enrichment” pennies, allowing schools to earn and keep more money for property taxes levied above the standard Tier 1 tax rate;

• Requires school districts to conduct an efficiency audit — before going to voters for a tax increase — to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly
• Requires local school boards to set student achievement goals for 3rd grade math and reading

• Updates the transportation funding model from a burdensome linear density model to a simplified one dollar per mile reimbursement;

• Allocates resources to low-income students based on census blocks that are tiered according to economic disadvantage. House Bill 3 prioritizes students with the highest needs and provides more funding to schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and generational poverty;

• Quadruples the amount allocated to fast growth districts to build and equip new instructional facilities funding to $100 million per year; • Adds a reimbursement for the cost of transporting homeless students and CTE students to work-based learning sites;

• Creates a professional development grant program to train teachers in blended learning instruction so they can effectively combine e-learning and traditional classroom instruction;

• Dedicates more money for dual language immersion education, which has proven to be more effective in producing greater achievement levels for multilingual and native English speaking students;

• Equips districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders; • Establishes an extended year program that allows districts to combat “summer slide” by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades PreK-5 during the summer months;

• Expands career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education; and

• Establishes a grant program for districts to offer parents of economically disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in grades 3-8 access to additional services to help improve educational performance

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