Promising School Finance Bills Advance in Texas House

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This post was updated on August 8th, 2017.

The first major pieces of Texas school finance legislation this special session have passed the House and are on their way to the Senate.

On Monday the House passed HB 21 and HB 30. Sponsored by House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, HB 21 has many positive provisions and is a promising first step toward meaningful school finance reform. The legislation removes some outdated and inefficient elements from the school funding formula, adds funding for students with dyslexia, provides a slight increase for English language learners and expands the current career and technology funding to cover eighth grade and technology application courses. HB 30, which provides funding in connection with HB 21, increases the basic, per-student funding level for schools. Both of these bills are a great first step in updating our badly outdated school finance system.

To Keep Pace with Inflation, the Legislature Must Invest an Additional $2.7 Billion this Biennium

As the Legislature moves through this process, it is important that we keep the whole school finance system from falling further into disrepair. To prevent the system from losing ground each year to inflation, the legislature must make a minimum investment of $2.7 billion this biennium. CPPP has calculated estimates for each Texas school district of the increased revenue required to keep up with inflation.

Unfortunately, leading budget proposals in both the House and Senate lack the funding needed to keep school districts from losing ground over the next two years. HB 21 sets aside an additional $1.8 billion for public education. Although these funds are greatly needed to reduce the chronic underfunding of our schools, this amount represents only 67 percent of the $2.7 billion required to keep pace with rising inflation.

school finance chart

Increasing state’s investment in public education to keep pace with inflation would also reduce recapture — the mechanism through which “property-wealthy” districts send funding to the state to support other districts and charter schools – by $343 million, or 7.2 percent, over the biennium. This is because a district is able to keep more local revenue when its funding entitlement increases.

Read the full policy brief for more details.

Chandra Villanueva joined the Center for Public Policy Priorities in 2010 and focuses on school finance and education policy ranging from early education to higher education access and success. Prior to joining the Center, Chandra was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City. At WPA, she educated formerly incarcerated women on the legislative process and researched options for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. Chandra has also served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center with placements in Tucson, Arizona and Washington, DC. Chandra earned a Master of Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

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