Senate Passes Property Tax Reduction / Education Reform Bill
AUSTIN -- State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) joined with each of his Senate colleagues to pass a measure on Wednesday night that would cut local school property taxes by one-third, put more money into schools, increase equity between districts, and raise teacher salaries. The legislation, House Bill 1, passed unanimously.
Senator Deuell said he believes the bill will be a benefit to Texas and Senate District Two.
"I have always held that property taxes are too high," Deuell said. "Since I was first elected I have tried to find ways to reduce property taxes on our citizens while ensuring our schools have adequate funding. I believe this bill lays out the framework for that."
The bill would reduce property taxes by lowering the cap from $1.50 to $1.00 per $100 valuation by 2008. The first reduction of 17 cents would occur in 2007, followed by a further 33 cents in 2008. It also allows districts to add four cents of local enrichment to the tax rate with local school board approval, with access to an additional two cents in 2009. This enrichment tier is not subject to the state's revenue recapture system, but any further tax increases, which must be approved by voters, would be available for recapture.
House Bill 1 included a $2000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers, and districts would be permitted to create incentive plans to attract teachers to hard to staff schools, or teach understaffed subjects. The bill also requires four years of math and science instruction for all high school students.
Additional provisions include moving the Texas Education Agency sunset date to 2012, and implementing a uniform school start date of the fourth Monday in August.
The bill will now go back to the House of Representatives for final approval. In addition, the Senate also passed House Bill 5, which would increase the per pack tax on cigarettes by one dollar. The increase would be phased in, with a 75 cent hike in early 2007, and the remaining 25 cents in September, 2007.