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June 30, 2005     (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES EDUCATION REFORM PLAN

The Senate today passed its version of a plan to reform the state's public education system in the form of Committee Substitute to House Bill 2. The bill is nearly identical to the bill passed by the Senate during the regular session in early May. With both houses of the Legislature having passed reform plans, the bill can now move to conference committee where the differences between the House and Senate versions can be resolved. "This moves the process forward, and permits us to get into conference early to reach a good agreement with our friends and colleagues in the House on education reform, which we all want to see," said Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.

CSHB 2 would lower school property taxes to $1.10 per $100 valuation over the next two years, a 40 cent decrease from the current cap. The bill would increase funding public education by 8 to 10 percent over the next biennium, and would put more money toward bilingual education and textbooks. Recapture, the controversial process where more prosperous districts give money to poorer districts, would be reduced by CSHB 2.

Educators could expect to see higher pay if the Senate plan is adopted. The bill would grant an average annual pay raise of $3,000 over the next two years to teachers, with additional pay available in the form of performance based incentives.

Under the Senate plan, the new goal of public education in Texas is to send students on to post secondary education. The state would provide money for students who want to take college placement exams, and college attendance for graduates would become an important determinate for rating schools.

This bill will likely move to conference committee in the middle of next week. The House is slated to take up the finance portion of this bill, HB 3, early next week, and if passed, the bill will then go to the Senate Finance Committee before it makes its way to the Senate floor.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, July 6, at 1:30 p.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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