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House Public Education Committee Hears New HB 21, Other School Funding Bills

07.24.2017 — The House Public Education Committee met Monday afternoon and heard testimony on the following bills related to school funding:

  • CSHB 21 (Huberty, et al.) is very similar to HB 21 passed by the House during the regular session. A committee substitute was laid out that would put $1.9 billion into the public education system; ensure the basic allotment cannot drop below $5,140; eliminate the transportation and high school allotments; create a 0.1 weight for students with dyslexia or related disorders; and increase the bilingual education weight to 0.11. The bill would also phase in, over a six-year period, an increase to the small district adjustment for districts with less than 300 square miles. It would also provide $200 million (adjusted in the committee substitute) for hardship grants for districts that would lose funding, including due to ASATR. One significant difference from the HB 21 filed in the regular session is that this bill would provide $25 million in charter school facilities funding and $75 million for the existing debt allotment. Huberty said that the funding mechanism for the bill is a deferral and that he would like to work with anyone who has input on the bill — but has to do that quickly. “Fixing the school finance system is the one thing I’ve wanted to do in my 14 years in politics, and this is a first step,” Huberty said of the bill, also noting that the state share of public education funding has dropped to 37 percent, or 31 percent when charter school funding is not considered. TASA registered in support of the bill, which was left pending (though Huberty mentioned possibly voting it out of committee on Tuesday).
  • HB 23 (Huberty) would create a program to provide grants for innovative services to students with autism. It would require the commissioner of education to award grants with grant funding for five years, beginning in 2018-19, to not more than 10 recipients and to prioritize grant awards for programs that are a collaboration between multiple public schools. The bill would direct the commissioner to set aside $10 million in each fiscal year of the 2018-19 biennium from the Foundation School Program and proportionately reduce each school district and charter school’s FSP state aid to provide funding for the grant program.TASA also registered support for this bill, which was left pending.

  • CSHB 61 (Gina Hinojosa) would provide a credit to districts required to take action under Chapter 41 of the Education Code to reduce its wealth per student to the equalized level equal to the amount of the district’s transportation allotment. A committee substitute was laid out that would require any savings to be used for teacher raises. TASA registered support for this bill, which was left pending.

  • CSHB 62 (Gina Hinojosa, et al.) would provide an adjustment to the taxable value of a district that provided social security coverage to its employees before January 1, 2017, by a percentage of the district’s required contribution for social security coverage. A committee substitute was laid out that would require any savings to go to teacher pay raises. It was left pending.

  • HB 194 (Ashby, et al.) would amend the small district adjustment applied to the basic allotment for districts with boundaries encompassing less than 300 square miles. Beginning in fiscal year 2020, the bill would increase the small district adjustment for these districts each year through fiscal year 2025 until the adjustment is equal to the level currently provided for small districts encompassing 300 or more square miles. The adjustment’s effect on charter school funding would be limited to the level provided in fiscal year 2019. TASA registered support for this bill, which was left pending.

  • HB 197 (Bernal) would increase the weight used to calculate the bilingual education allotment of the Foundation School Program from 0.1 to 0.25. TASA registered support for this bill, which was left pending.

  • HB 234 (Bernal) would increase the weight used to calculate the compensatory education allotment of the Foundation School Program for educationally disadvantaged students from 0.2 to 0.25. TASA registered support for this bill, which was left pending.

  • HB 258 (Mary González) would make major changes to the public school finance system and require a comprehensive review of weights, allotments, and adjustments. The bill’s sponsor called it a “dream bill” with a number of items from her wish list for school finance reform; it has a fiscal note of $14 billion. The bill was left pending.

See video of the hearing.

The committee will meet again on Tuesday at 8 a.m. See a list of the bills to be heard.