Return to Headlines

Senate Passes Amended HB 21 School Finance Bill

08.15.2017 — HB 21, the House’s school finance reform bill that was altered in the Senate Education Committee last Friday, was passed by the Senate with a vote of 25-6. As laid out in the Senate, the bill includes:

  • $150 million for ASATR hardship grants
  • $60 million for charter school facilities
  • $60 million to increase the EDA yield
  • $41 million for the small-school adjustment (six-year phase in)

Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor called it a "bridge" for getting through the biennium while a school finance commission works on building a new system from the ground up. He acknowledged that the bill would not be final with the vote taken by the Senate, the total pricetag would be at least $563 million (with cost of amendments), there were "ongoing discussions" with the House, and that the bill would definitely go to conference committee for further negotiation.

When asked for assurance that no school districts would lose funding under this bill, either as passed by the Senate or due to changes made to the bill during conference committee negotiations, Taylor said that while some districts will receive no additional funding, none should lose funding, as the bill makes no changes to the formula or weights.

Major amendments approved on the Senate floor:

  • clarify that charter school funding must be used for facilities purposes
  • clarify that only charters meeting certain academic standards or serving residential treatment centers would receive funding
  • add language from SB 19 relating to TRS-Care passed by the Senate and sent to the House (adding $212 million to HB 21)
  • establish two separate grant programs to fund innovative services for students with autism and dyslexia that are similar to programs outlined in HB 23, which was passed by the House and sent to the Senate (adding $20 million per program to HB 21), and state that the funding is outside the FSP (grant funding) and the programs are funded for two years
  • establish a commission to study school finance (using language from Taylor's SB 16)

The bill will now return to the House. A conference committee is expected to be appointed.