Texas legislators discuss school funding issues at education panel

  • Share:
December 06, 2017
Public school funding was one of the issues, and certainly not the simplest, issues facing the 2017 Texas Legislature.

To help bring some clarity, the Public Policy and Education & Workforce committees partnered to bring elected officials involved in education and workforce issues together to discuss the challenges of the 85th legislative and special sessions.
Pictured are the legislators with Chamber education and public policy reps.  Raul Hinojosa, Bill Sproull, Rep Linda Koop, Sen. Don Huffines, Rep Angie Chen Button, Celina Cardenas Fleites, Camille Garcia

Last month at a special lunch panel, Sen. Don Huffines, Rep. Angie Chen Button and Rep. Linda Koop discussed education legislation and what needs to happen next session.

The three agreed that all legislators support public education and are looking for solutions for funding.

​Koop stressed that the way Texans are funding schools is broken and we’ve “got to do it right for our kids.” Huffines addressed Education Savings Accounts. He believes all students should have school choice, and it will create competition that will help public school districts.

Both chambers agreed on a bill addressing school finance before the end of the session, but only after removing the most impactful components of the legislation. The original version of House Bill 21 would have provided an additional $1.9 billion to public schools, increased the per-student allotment from $5,140 to $5,350, provided $25 million in facilities funding for charter schools and $75 million for fast-growing districts, expanded high school career and technology funding to eighth grade, and provided $200 million in hardship grants to school districts scheduled to lose Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) funding.

The full Senate removed most of those provisions, so that the bill is unlikely to have a significant impact on property taxes. The final version of HB 21 will provide $351 million to small, rural schools and students with autism or dyslexia, insert $212 million into a healthcare program for retired teachers, and provide $120 million for new facilities. Both chambers also passed House Bill 30, which would immediately fund HB 21 by deferring $563 million for health care companies that provide Medicaid.

For more information:

Molly Ulmer, Chief Governance Officer