AUSTIN – Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Monday named three Members of the Texas House and one Central Texas education leader to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance.
Rep. Dan Huberty, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Education, will serve as Co-Chair of the Public School Finance Commission. Also serving on the new Commission will be two other members of the House Public Education Committee: Reps. Diego Bernal and Ken King.
“The House takes school finance reform seriously, and this year we preferred to act instead of studying the issue further,” Speaker Straus said. “That’s why we overwhelmingly passed major school finance legislation twice this year. The members of the House Public Education Committee carefully produced a bill that would have begun reforming the school finance system, put more dollars into almost every classroom and reduced the need for higher property taxes. I’m grateful that these members of the Public Education Committee have agreed to continue leading the effort to strengthen public education and reform our school finance system.”
In the regular session and special session earlier this year, the House overwhelmingly approved House Bill 21. Authored by Chairman Huberty, this legislation would have put almost $2 billion in additional state funding into public schools. By increasing the state’s share of education funding, it would have reduced the amount of money that school districts pay through the Robin Hood system by hundreds of millions of dollars. It also would have updated and reformed several of the formulas used to distribute money to schools. The legislation did not become law because the Texas Senate significantly reduced the amount of money that the bill would have put into education.
Speaker Straus also named Nicole Conley Johnson to the Commission. Since 2009, Ms. Johnson has served as Chief Financial Officer for the Austin Independent School District. She previously served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Atlanta Public Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and Director of Budget Services for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia.
“As someone whose school district is projected to pay more than $500 million dollars in Robin Hood payments this year, Ms. Johnson understands the problems in our current system,” Speaker Straus said. “I’m grateful that she is bringing her expertise and well-earned credibility to the work of this Commission.”
The Texas Commission on Public School Finance was created in a special legislative session earlier this year and includes members appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House. The Commission will recommend ways that the next Legislature can reform and improve the state’s system of paying for public education.
“Reforming the school finance system in order to give schools more resources and reduce the burden on local property taxpayers has been and will continue to be a priority of the Texas House,” Speaker Straus said. “The House wanted to pass significant reforms earlier this year. This Commission will have a chance to build on the House’s work.”