AUSTIN – Representative Ed Thompson has co-authored House Bill 3, comprehensive legislation to fundamentally transform the public school finance system in Texas. Following the bill's filing last week, Rep. Thompson 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'm proud of the work the Texas House is doing this session to address public education in this state," said Rep. Thompson. "Improving public education has been a top priority of mine since I was elected in 2012, and I'm honored to be a part of the solution. House Bill 3 is the result of years of research, and I'm looking forward to seeing this much needed reform come to fruition."
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 threat of a court order.
Rep. Thompson also noted that the Texas Plan benefits all students, school districts, and classrooms, especially the fast growth school districts in District 29. House Bill 3 gives districts the ability to earn and keep more money from local property taxes and quadruples the amount allocated to fast growth districts to build and equip new instructional facilities to $100 million per year. Giving school districts the resources to meet the demands of growing student populations is a critical component of House Bill 3.
School finance and property tax reform are the top two 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 Rep. Thompson for 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, Rep. Thompson 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 Rep. Thompson 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 additional $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 district to combat "summer slide" by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades Pre-K-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;
• Quadruples the amount allocated to fast growth districts to build and equip new instructional facilities funding to $100 million per year;
• Expands career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education; and
• Establishes a grant program for districts to offer parents of economically disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in grades 3-8 access to additional services to help improve educational performance.
To learn more, visit www.thetexasplan.com.
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