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Rep.Harris, Cody

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Rep. Harris Co-Authors Monumental School Finance Legislation  print page

by: Rep. Harris, Cody
03/05/2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Representative Harris today co-authored House Bill 3, comprehensive legislation to fundamentally transform the public school finance system in Texas. Following the bill's filing, Representative Harris was proud to join dozens of fellow House colleagues at a bipartisan joint press conference at the State Capitol to announce their support of House Bill 3.

"I was elected to come to Austin and fight for our public schools and property tax reform, and HB 3 does exactly that. I'm proud to lead our communities towards a better education for our children while at the same time decreasing the burden on local property taxpayers." - Representative Harris

House Bill 3 (also referred to as the "Texas Plan") invests $9 billion above enrollment growth and current law entitlement toward student achievement, teacher quality and property tax reform, and will put more money into Texas classrooms than ever before. It represents the first major rewrite of the state's public school finance system undertaken without the threat of a court order.

Representative Harris, also noted that the Texas Plan benefits all students, districts and classrooms in District 8, because it empowers local school districts to put more money into classrooms by raising the amount of per-student funding from $5,140 to $6,030. This funding adds significant resources to school districts while providing them the discretion to drive resources where they are needed most.

House Bill 3 gives the rural school districts in House District 8 the ability to earn and keep more money from local property taxes, provides added programs and resources for underserved students, and updates the critical transportation funding model to a simplified $1.00 per mile reimbursement, among other important components. House Bill 3 also gives school districts the ability to access an additional $140 million to recruit and retain quality teachers through their own local performance designation system, giving rural districts more resources to recruit and retain top teachers.

School finance and property tax reform are the two top priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature, and both have been declared emergency items by Governor Greg Abbott. House Speaker Dennis Bonnen opened up the press conference, thanking House Members for authoring this critical legislation that will make monumental improvements in the lives of Texas teachers and students.

“I applaud Representative Harris for co-authoring House Bill 3 and for taking us one step closer to passing transformational school finance legislation this session,” said Speaker Bonnen. “By committing to meaningful, lasting investments in Texas classrooms through House Bill 3, Representative Harris is at the forefront of preparing our students for the demands of a bustling workforce and keeping the State of Texas a beacon of economic opportunity. I look forward to working with Representative Harris to pass this critical legislation into law and thank them for their hard work in bringing this priority bill to fruition.”

Built upon years of research, data and testimony, House Bill 3:

• Invests in Texas students and teachers by adding approximately $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years;

• Empowers local school districts to put more money in their classrooms by raising the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, an $890 increase per student;

• Provides property tax reform by lowering school property tax rates by 4 cents statewide;

• Reduces recapture from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion for the biennium, a $3 billion or 38% reduction;

• Establishes an early reading program that funds full-day, high-quality Pre-K for low- income students, setting the right foundation for students to be able to read at grade level by third grade;

• Substantially raises the minimum teacher salary schedule and allocates an addition $140 million in funding for a teacher quality program, providing districts with the resources for recruiting and retaining teachers in the classroom;

• Enhances the yield on the "enrichment" pennies, allowing schools to earn and keep more money for property taxes levied above the standard Tier 1 tax rate;

• Creates a professional development grant program to train teachers in blended learning instruction so they can effectively combine e-learning and traditional classroom instruction;

• Dedicates more money for dual language immersion education, which has proven to be more effective in producing greater achievement levels for multilingual and native English speaking students;

• Equips districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders;

• Establishes an extended year program that allows districts to combat "summer slide" by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades PreK-5 during the summer months;

• Updates the transportation funding model from a burdensome linear density model to a simplified one dollar per mile reimbursement;

• Allocates resources to low-income students on a sliding scale (rather than an equal weight) to prioritize students with the highest needs, and provides more funding to schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and generational poverty

To learn more, visit www.thetexasplan.com.

Contact: Jeff Carlson

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