News

Capitol Update: Monumental School Finance and Property Tax Reform

April 6, 2019

This was a monumental week in the Texas House of Representatives.  This week, the House overwhelmingly passed HB 3 that invests $9 billion in Texas classrooms to boost student achievement, support teacher quality, reduce recapture and provide property tax relief.

HB 3 is the first major rewrite of school finance laws undertaken without the threat of a court order, and it puts a stop to decades of patchwork fixes by creating a more equitable public education system.

Some of the highlights from HB 3 include:

  • An additional $9 billion investment in our students and teachers over the next two years.
  • Guarantees that almost $2.5 billion of the new money will go toward raises for school district employees; includes an increase in the minimum teacher salary schedule.
  • $2.7 billion towards property tax reduction.
    • An average 5.5% school tax rate reduction across the state.
  • Requires voters to approve a school tax rate above $1.01 in an election.
    • Also requires a school district to conduct an efficiency audit before asking for such an increase.
  • Establishes an early education reading program and funds full-day pre-K for low income students.
  • Equips districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders.
  • Expands career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education.

This week, I also laid out HB 4150, which will require electric utilities to report on the their safety practices, the amount of their distribution systems that they inspect on an annual basis, and the number of fatalities and injuries that they have on an annual basis.  This legislation was borne out of the Lake O’ the Pines tragedy where three young men were tragically killed after sailing into a low hanging power line.  I hope that with this legislation, we can ensure that electric utilities are properly maintaining the power lines to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

I am pleased to report that we also passed five Sunset bills out of the House this week as well, providing improvements in efficiency for the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, Board of Accountancy, Historical Commission, Military Department, and Board of Geoscientists.  We will continue to work on this important legislation and work to make government as efficient and effective for you as possible.

Things are starting to move fast in Austin as we are now in the last 60 days of the legislative session.  Many of you have reached out with support or concerns about legislation.  I would encourage you to keep it coming.  I can be reached at district9.paddie@house.texas.gov or 512-463-0556 (Austin office) or 903-935-1141 (Marshall office).