While public education reform and property tax relief have been the focus of the Texas House from the very beginning of the 86th Legislative Session, this week my colleagues and I finally had the opportunity to bring House Bill 3 to the floor for a vote. I’m pleased to report that after hours of debate, the Texas House overwhelmingly passed this historic piece of legislation that will benefit every student, teacher, and property owner in Texas!
With that, here are some of the highlights of House Bill 3: The Texas Plan. . .
House Bill 3 will help prepare our youngest students for long-term success by investing in high-quality, full-day Pre-K for low income students. By establishing a more sustainable and consistent funding source for this program, we are ensuring that our state is prioritizing early childhood development as a means to long-term success. The bill also increases the base funding for each student by a statewide average of $890, allows parents of students with learning disabilities to enter into a program for additional services from their district, and equips districts with resources to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders.
For teachers, House Bill 3 provides additional funds to incentivize and reward the teachers who take on the challenges of schools that struggle to attract and retain quality teachers. Teachers will also be provided more continuing education and training opportunities, and adds additional funding for professional development programs that train teachers in the latest instructional techniques. Perhaps most importantly, this bill contains a provision that provides school employees with a long overdue pay raise.
As I’ve maintained throughout my tenure as a legislator, true and meaningful property tax relief can only be achieved by addressing our school finance system. I’m proud that this legislation makes positive steps towards achieving both of these goals by adjusting the formulas to create a more equitable funding mechanism for our public schools and the taxpayers who help support them. Through the passage of House Bill 3 and House Bill 1, the Texas House effectively lowered school district property taxes by an average of 5.5% statewide, or $2.7 billion. With this provision, every Texan will see a permanent property tax rate reduction with the option to lower property taxes even further in the future. The bill also provides a uniform tax rate compression so that all Texans — urban, suburban, or rural – benefit equitably. Further, this bill empowers taxpayers by requiring voter approval before a school district may raise tax rates above $1.01 per $100 valuation. It also calls for an efficiency audit to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly.
The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: April 17th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm; and finally on April 24th at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 9:00-11:00am.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.