Texas Senate Passes School Finance Bill

State Senator Royce West addresses the crowd at the 2018 Texas Democratic Convention. (File Photo)

AUSTIN—Just in time for National Teacher Appreciation Week the Texas Senate approved landmark school finance legislation (House Bill 3). The senate version, which passed 26-2, would invest billions more dollars in public education and strengthen our state’s future.

“We applaud Chairman Taylor and everyone who has worked to pass this important school finance bill,” said Center for Public Policy Priorities Spokesperson Luis Figueroa. “The bill includes long overdue and robust improvements that are essential to remodeling our school finance system so that every Texas child can get a quality education.”

District 23 Senator Royce West simply said, “Let this day and this victory for Texas children, stand on its’ own. Soon, it head to the House. Let us not grow weary.”

Education appropriations have been a hot button issue for state lawmakers this session. Senator West serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

“Another good amendment by Senator West passed that at least ensures funds for economically disadvantaged students will go to their intended purpose,” said Figueroa. “We’re disappointed that Senators rejected a similar amendment that would have directed the funding for English Language Learners and poor students. We look forward to the conference committee addressing this important shortcoming.”

School Finance Heads Back To The House

His Best Southwest counterpart in the Texas House, Representative Carl O. Sherman Sr. sits on the Appropriations Committee. The committee has jurisdiction over all bills that receive monies from the state treasury.

In the past Sherman has been very vocal concerning the state of education in Texas public schools.

Carl O. Sherman

“I have expressed great concern about the state’s continued decrease in funding for public education,” Sherman said. “(In turn) which has forced school districts across the State of Texas to increase property taxes.”

After an hours-long debate on dozens of proposed changes, the Senate voted 26-2 on House Bill 3, which under the version passed by the upper chamber would increase student funding, give teachers and librarians a $5,000 pay raise, fund full-day pre-K for low-income students, and lower tax bills.

The House and Senate will have to negotiate their significant differences over the bill — including how to offer teacher pay raises and property tax relief — in a conference committee before it can be signed into law.

So it seems that both the upper and lower chambers of the state legislature agree that school funding is important. Yet where to get the funding from is the sticking point. Raise sales tax or lower property taxes. Still will that encourage local tax assessors to raise property rates comparatively?

Currently there are 20 days left in the regular legislative session.