Texas Legislators Agree to Deal on School Finance, Property Tax Reform

Deals being finalized, expected soon on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk; session closes Monday

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says state legislators have come to an agreement on three bills that will settle school finance and property tax reform.

Abbott, joined on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, didn't share a lot of specifics about the negotiated bills, but did say both the House and Senate spent days hammering out their differences to come away with agreements on HB1 (state budget), SB2 (property tax) and HB3 (school finance).

"HB1, concerning the finance package for the entire session, the entire budget, has been resolved. They're finalizing the final details," Abbott said. "The same for SB2, the bill concerning property tax reform. Last night, we were able to finalize the agreement on HB3 which transforms the funding of education in our state as well as drives down property tax rates in Texas."

Here is what we know so far. The state is adding $2 billion for compensation for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses over the next two years. We don't know what that equals for each staff member, that'll be up to the districts to decide.

However, Patrick said the compensation package for veteran teachers will add about $4,000. That number could climb to $6,000 through bonuses and incentives, Patrick said.

The bill also reduces recapture payments, money taken from wealthy school districts to give to poorer ones, by 47 percent. Bonnen said the state couldn't support completely repealing recapture, also known as the "Robin Hood" plan.

In the classroom, the state is adding $4.5 billion for education reforms that will include increasing the basic allotment per student and fully fund Pre-K programs for low-income families. 

"We can definitively say future generations of children in Texas will be better off because of the education reforms passed this session," Abbott said. "The tax burden on property owners will be less because of what we accomplished this session."

Patrick said the property tax plan caps tax increases at 2.5% for schools and cities and counties at 3.5% without a vote from the people.

"We are giving people a say in their local government and their tax policies on their property whether it's a homeowner or a business owner in a way that they've never had," Patrick said.

In 2020, the property tax valuation will be dropped $.08 per 100 of valuation; in 2021 that'll jump to $.13.

"The three leaders of Texas, your state Senate and your state House, are committed to solving the biggest problems facing the people of Texas. We have all been together, we have stayed together, and frankly, we are more together than we have ever been and the people of Texas are those who win. We're proud to deliver the win," said Bonnen.

The 86th Legislative session ends Monday, May 27.

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