House Approves School Finance Bill

The Texas House on Wednesday, April 19, gave overwhelming approval to House Bill 21, filed by Public Education Committee Chair Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) and which begins an overhaul of the state's school finance system. Among other things, the bill injects an additional $1.8 billion in funding for public education as it increases the basic allotment for public school districts. The bill must now go to the Senate, whose budget supplanted $1.8 billion in state funding for public education with local property taxes. Stay tuned ...

House gives preliminary approval to bill overhauling school finance system (Texas Tribune)

House approves flagship school funding bill; faces uncertain future in the Senate

(Houston Chronicle)


Text of HB21 (Texas Legislature Online)





4/20/2017 11:29:00 AM
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4/20/2017 11:29:00 AM

Rusty Graham

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House Takes A Stand On Vouchers
While it took more than 15 hours Thursday for the House to hear hundreds of amendments then pass a $218 billion budget for the next biennium, it only took a couple of hours for one of the more intriguing questions of the 85th Legislature to be settled -- are vouchers dead on arrival in the House? It would appear so as an anti-voucher amendment passed by a large margin, 103-44. A major priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Senate last week passed a watered-down version of Senate Bill 3, which has yet to be heard in the House. But the margin by which the anti-voucher amendment passed seems to be a signal that House has no stomach for vouchers.

The House's $218 billion total is the same as the Senate's $218 billion budget, but the House would use $2.5 billion from the Rainy Day fund while the Senate's version uses an accounting trick to push $2.5 billion into the next biennium. The House injects $1.6 billion more into public education. The Senate version openly uses $1.8 billion in local property taxes to help fund public education. Differences will be hammered out in a conference committee.


House passes budget after more than 15-hour debate (Texas Tribune)

Analysis: Texas budget writers have the cash, but won't let go of their tricks (Texas Tribune)




4/07/2017 09:59:00 AM
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4/07/2017 09:59:00 AM

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As expected, activity has indeed increased with the Texas Legislature as the halfway point of the session has been passed. The Senate passed, Senate Bill 3, a substitute version of its school choice bill, which now heads to the House, where leaders have shown little interest the bill.

On the House side, the Public Education Committee passed House Bill 22, which attempts to make the A-F accountability system more palatable for educators. Educators would rather A-F go away, but in testimony grudgingly said that the new bill is better than the old one. The measure now goes to the full House.

The House is preparing for a marathon budget session on Thursday, hearing any number of amendments that have been attached.

Texas Senate passes private school choice bill (Texas Tribune)




4/05/2017 03:17:00 PM
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4/05/2017 03:17:00 PM

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It's been a busy week so far at the Capitol. The Senate unanimously passed its $218 billion budget, which relies on $1.8 in local property tax revenue to help fund public education. Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, touted the Senate budget's focus on education. Meanwhile, the House Public Education Committee approved Chair Rep. Dan Huberty's school finance measure, which puts an extra $1.6 billion into public education. Stay tuned ...

Texas Senate approves its budget, shifting school costs to local taxpayers (Texas Tribune)

House committee approves $1.6 billion school finance measure (Texas Tribune)


3/29/2017 02:58:00 PM
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3/29/2017 02:58:00 PM

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Capitol Activity Picks Up As Committees Hear Bills

It's near the halfway mark of the 85th Texas Legislature -- 70 days down and 70 more to go in the 140-day session that kicked off on Jan. 10. More than 8,000 bills have been filed, and hearings on some of those bills have begun in earnest.

The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on Senate Bill 3, which would establish Education Savings Accounts -- vouchers -- for certain Texas students. Advocates and opponents showed up with studies and numbers bolstering their position.
Read more here: School choice bill proponents, foes debate what's best for families

Meanwhile, the House Public Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 22, which proposes changes in the state's A-F school and district accountability system and would postpone full implementation until August 2019, rather than August 2018. Superintendents and public education advocates generally like the bill although they dislike the A-F system. HB 22 at least attempts to correct the system, they said.
Read more here: School leaders welcome proposed changes to A-F system

Funding for high-quality full-day preK has long been a priority for SBISD, and for Gov. Greg Abbott. But Abbott is finding few allies in the Legislature when it comes to increasing funding for preK.
Read more here: Analysis: Can Abbott assemble an army for this session’s pre-K fight?
3/22/2017 09:06:00 AM
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3/22/2017 09:06:00 AM

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School Finance Bill Would Benefit SBISD

A bill filed Monday by State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), chair of the House Public Education Committee, makes some adjustments to recapture and increases the basic per-student allotment by about $200, moves that would benefit SBISD. Initial projections indicate some $6 million in additional state aid would come to SBISD under House Bill 21, as it stands now. Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri is cautiously optimistic but told Trustees Monday evening that there's nearly three months left in the legislative session and that much can happen between now and the session's end on May 29. The Senate has a working group looking at school finance but no bill has been filed in that chamber, where much attention is centered around vouchers and the so-called bathroom bill.

Read more about HB21:

House leader announces $1.6B school funding plan (Texas Tribune)

House committee to tackle Huberty's school finance fix (Houston Chronicle)

Text of HB21 (Texas Legislature Online)



3/08/2017 12:23:00 PM
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3/08/2017 12:23:00 PM

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Dr. Muri Testifies Before House Public Education Committee

The Texas House Public Education Committee heard more than six hours of testimony Tuesday, Feb. 28, including from SBISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri. Chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-127), the committee heard from a variety of districts, charter schools, school organizations, government agencies, interest groups and policy firms to help guide it while writing school finance legislation.



Watch the hearing HEREDr. Muri’s testimony begins around the 3:11:00 mark.

Dr. Muri, in the afternoon’s fourth panel, represented SBISD as a property-wealthy district. Dr. Muri described district demographics -- 56 percent disadvantaged and about a third English Language Learners (ELL) and noted that, according to TEA numbers, SBISD’s recapture – Robin Hood – obligation has grown 719 percent since 2008. He also pointed out that SBISD is the 36th largest district in the state but pays makes the sixth highest recapture payment. 

He told the committee that it’s very difficult to raise tax dollars when taxpayers realize that nearly half of the increase will go to recapture. He also told the committee that because of escalating recapture, SBISD budgets are staying flat in spite of the increased tax revenue and the district continues to fall behind in teacher salaries, creating a significant disadvantage in the competitive Houston-area market.

SBISD will send $53 million – 17 percent of operating revenue – to the state in recapture this year and an estimated $80 million – 24 percent – next year. The number is estimated at more than $110 million in 2019. Over the five-year period between 2015 and 2019, SBISD will send $265 million to the state in recapture.

Dr. Muri implored the committee to address recapture this session. He asked that the district's commitment to full-day preK be recognized and funded. He asked that transportation funding be restored. He asked that the recapture formula recognize districts like SBISD that offer the full 20 percent local homestead exemption. And he asked for more "golden pennies" -- tax effort that's not subject to recapture. 

Huberty made clear at the outset of testimony that the committee wasn’t there to hear comment on any particular bill, filed or unfiled, but to gather information.

Representatives from the Texas Education Agency and the Legislative Budget Board first outlined what the state constitution and current law mandates, then talked about the seemingly endless legal challenges to the school finance system. That panel was followed by five others made up of superintendents and representatives of school organizations, interest groups and policy firms.


3/02/2017 12:47:00 PM
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3/02/2017 12:47:00 PM

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Huberty Says Vouchers Are 'Dead' in House

House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Huberty told the Texas Tribune on Tuesday, Feb. 28, that he considers any voucher bill "dead" in the House and that he wouldn't hear it in his committee, which would effectively kill any measure that the Senate sent it. Huberty has taken heat since then from pro-school choice advocates. 

Huberty sat with Texas Tribune Executive Editor Evan Smith for a wide-ranging interview on issues facing public education -- including school finance and the A-F ratings -- and the Texas Legislature.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made school choice one of his legislative priorities this session, and Gov. Greg Abbott has called school choice the a “civil rights issue.” House Speaker Joe Strauss has said he will respect the will of his chamber's members.


Watch Huberty being interviewed by the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith HERE. Huberty briefly lifts out SBISD around the 13:55 mark.

Read the Houston Chronicle story HERE.
3/02/2017 12:18:00 PM
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3/02/2017 12:18:00 PM

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