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June 22, 2005     (512) 463-0300

EDUCATION COMMITTEE TAKES UP EDUCATION REFORM BILL

The Senate Education Committee today once again began the process again of considering a bill to reform the state's education system. Senate Bill 2, by Education Chair Florence Shapiro, attempts to address the special session call of improving the state's education system while reducing local property taxes. The bill would lower property taxes by almost a third, increase funding for school facilities and programs, and give public school teachers a pay raise.

The bill would permit local assessment districts to lower the local property tax rate maximum from the current cap of $1.50 to $1.15 for 2005, and lower it again to $1.10 in 2006. The bill would also allow for an across the board teacher pay raise of between $1500 and $2000. SB 2 would increase the average daily allotment for students, and puts more money toward textbooks and bilingual and special education.

At the end of the regular session, Shapiro had announced that the conference committee on HB 2 was very near an agreement in principle on a plan to reform the public school finance system. That agreement took into account compromises from both chambers, but the bill was never finalized. Shapiro said yesterday that SB 2 includes many of these compromises, and that it should help the House and Senate come to a final agreement on education finance reform.

The Senate reconvenes at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, June 27.

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