Issues Facing the 79th Legislature
Public School Finance Reform
(Austin) - Recently, the Texas House of Representatives passed one of this legislative session's major bills dealing with public school finance, House Bill 2. HB 2 would make comprehensive changes to the state's school finance system. The bill is set to be taken up by the Senate Education Committee after Easter, and the bill will most likely be significantly changed by the Texas Senate, which has its own public school finance reform plan. The Senate plan, know as "Texas Children First," was unveiled earlier this session and I was happy to be joined by all of my Senate colleagues in supporting it. To view the Senate plan, please visit www.texaschildrenfirst.com or contact my office to receive a copy.
The House Research Organization has released a detailed bill analysis of House Bill 2. To view the report, please visit www.capitol.state.tx.us, or contact my office to receive a hard copy. According to the HRO analysis, House Bill 2 would:
- increase the amount of funding distributed through funding formulas and use dollar amounts instead of weighted formulas in determining allotments;
- eliminate the state textbook fund and distribute these funds to districts through an instructional materials and technology allotment;
- reduce local property taxes by one-third and increase the state share of funding for basic programs;
- allow school districts to impose local enrichment taxes of up to 10 cents per $100 of valuation with no recapture of these funds;
- require voter approval of tax increases for local enrichment;
- place a 35 percent cap on the recapture of local property tax revenue beginning with the 2008-09 school year;
- require school districts to give teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses a $1,000 pay raise;
- eliminate the health insurance passthrough for all employees;
- require school districts to use 1 percent of maintenance and operations revenue to fund teacher incentive programs;
- establish a $100 million incentive program for educationally disadvantaged schools that would award teachers $7,500 for gains in academic achievement;
- require TEA to seek bids for the outside management of campuses that perform in the lowest 5 percent of accountability ratings for two consecutive years;
- impose stricter financial accountability requirements on school districts and regional education service centers;
- replace the TAKS test with end-of-course assessments for high school students;
- exempt high-performing campuses from most state regulations;
- require the TAKS test to be given by computer beginning in March, 2006 if practicable;
- require school board elections to be held in November of even numbered years;
- require school board members to serve four-year terms ; and
- establish a statewide student enrollment and tracking system.
As stated above, this bill will most likely be significantly changed in the Texas Senate, and I look forward to debating this measure on the floor.
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0556 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: firstname.lastname@example.org.