Texas School Funding Bill Up for Vote Monday

House Bill 3 would boost school funding, increase sales tax

The Texas Senate is set to vote Monday on House Bill 3, which would dramatically change the way schools in the state get and spend their money.

The Senate version of the bill would provide a swap of sorts – an increased sales tax in exchange for property tax relief – as the primary means of paying for the changes.

Among the notable changes that HB 3 would provide for:

- A $5,000 raise to every full-time teacher and librarian in the state

- Full-day pre-Kindergarten for all qualified students

- Increased base per-student funding from $5,140 to $5,880

- Increased funding for special education programs

The sales tax increase that would provide the majority of the revenue to pay for the increased funding would raise the maximum sales tax to 7.25%, up one percentage point from 6.25%. That increase is expected to generate $5 billion a year.

In addition, there are multiple means by which House Bill 3 would aim to provide property tax relief, including using current-year property values when calculating a school district’s state funding as opposed to the current system which takes into account not only the current value but also the amount that the property has increased in value.

The Senate version of House Bill 3 would also increase the homestead exemption, which caps the amount of money a county can add to a property tax bill in any given year, by $15,000.

Several North Texas school districts are still sorting out the specifics of how this plan could impact their bottom lines.

In the Frisco Independent School District, for example, a school spokesperson estimates that the Senate version of House Bill 3 would provide an additional $28.2 million starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Of that money, approximately $24 million would need to be spent on the raises for teachers and librarians, and $2 million would be spent on the expanded pre-K program. That would leave $2 million in funding for other purposes.

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