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Agreement on HB 3 Announced in Press Conference Today

05.23.2019 — Gov. Greg Abbott held a joint press conference with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen this afternoon. The three, surrounded by the members of the House and Senate Education committees, announced that the conference committee had come to an agreement on HB 3 on school finance.

While the final bill language is not yet available, TASA Governmental staff anticipate that it, as well as the school district runs, will be shared during the weekend prior to a vote on HB 3. A summary distributed at the press conference provides the following overview of the bill's provisions (language below is as stated on the summary):

$4.5 billion for Transformational Education Reforms

  • Significantly increases the Basic Allotment per student
  • Funds full-day pre-K for low-income students
  • Adopts high-quality K-3 reading standards so students read at grade level by third grade
  • Creates the first dyslexia identification program in Texas history
  • Accelerates student achievement via College, Career & Military Readiness (CCMR) outcomes, bonuses, dual-language programs, and extended-year summer programs for economically disadvantaged students
  • Creates a "Do Not Hire" registry to protect children in the classroom
  • Funds transportation at a rate of $1 per mile and quadruples funding for building and equipping new facilities
  • Directs more funds to schools with higher concentrations of under-served stuents, including dropouts, students in special education, and residential treatment facilities

Over $5 Billion in Property Tax Relief

  • Provides over $5 billion in statewide property tax relief
  • Lowers school property tax rates by an average of 8 cents in 2020 and 13 cents in 2021
  • Provides an additional 2.5% tax compression starting in 2021
  • Ensures taxpayer dollars are used responsibly by requiring districts to conduct efficiency audits before going to voters with a tax increase
  • Increases the state's share of education funding from 38% to 45%

$3.6 Billion Recapture Reduction*

  • Reduces recapture payments by $3.6 billion, a 47% reduction this biennium
  • Increases equity within the school finance system
  • Gives school districts the ability to keep more of the money they earn from their local property taxes

*Not an appropriation. The reduction in recapture is a cumulative effect of the $11.68 investment made in HB 3 to buy down property taxes and reform school finance formulas.

$2 Billion for Dynamic Teacher Compensation

  • Compensates educators as true professionals by unleashing over $2 billion in dynamic pay raises for teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses
  • Creates a merit/incentive pay program for high-quality educators to receive additional pay
  • Increases the minimum teacher salary schedule
  • Invests in professional development and mentoring programs for new teachers

The summary document states that the bill invests more than $2 billion this biennium to increase compensation for teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses, prioritizing veteran educators. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick commented during the press conference: "All veteran teachers on average are going to see a total compensation package of $4,000 plus an incentive package." Patrick also said that the bill adds a month of school in July on voluntary basis and that "teachers who want to participate will have extra month of earnings."

The $4,000 package Patrick referred to may be explained by the following information in the HB 3 summary document: Dedicated funds for educator raises are $1.6 billion, to be combined with $510 per educator in average retirement benefits through HB 3 and $412 per employee in average new retirement benefits through SB 12.

The summary document provides the following information about the included merit/incentive pay program:

  • $140 million for a merit/incentive pay program that allows educators to earn additional money based on performance, experience, and merit
  • $30 million annually for an extended year program that rewards teachers who work an additional 30 days in the summer
  • $8 million for mentoring new teachers
  • $6 million toward professional development for teachers in blended learning instruction

In an interview following the press conference, House Public Education Commitee Chair Dan Huberty addressed the reintroduction of the merit/incentive pay plan into the bill by saying, "You can't create a profession by paying everyone the same" and that "theoretically [under the bill] teachers could make a significant, six-figure living without becoming a principal or administrator."

Huberty said that Texas Tech had been selected, rather than "one person or one agency," to determine what an effective educator is for purposes of the bill, which has levels including recognized, exemplary, and master's, he said. Huberty stressed that HB 3 had been "uncoupled it from any testing." (The assessment provisions were moved to HB 3906, which was passed by the Senate Wednesday.)

When asked by reporters where the new funding would come from, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said it was a hybrid plan of "looking at local values and the state putting in more money."

Bonnen was asked about the final vote on HB 3, and he responded that there were some parliamentary procedure considerations, but the vote would be taken as soon as possible.

TASA will provide more information when the bill language and school district runs are made available.