School Finance Reform in the Fourth Quarter of the 86th Lege

It’s day 116 of the 86th Legislature. Only 31 days remain. The Senate Education Committee has released its comprehensive plan to reform Texas’ public school finance system. Here’s your update on all things school finance.

Thursday, the Senate Education Committee heard public testimony on its version of House Bill 3 (CSHB 3).

  • The legislation, as currently written, differs in a number of ways from the House’s version of HB3, which passed earlier this month in the Texas House. CSHB 3 contains:

    • A substantial increase to the basic allotment, up to $5,880 from $5,140, slightly lower than the House’s recommendation of $6,030.

    • An optional Teacher Incentive Allotment for school districts to more robustly evaluate and compensate our state’s most effective teachers, especially those teaching in rural or high-poverty schools.

    • Outcomes-based funding to reward school districts when students achieve proficiency at key academic benchmarks -- 3rd grade literacy and postsecondary readiness -- equitably weighted to provide additional dollars for low-income students and special education students achieving proficiency.

    • A $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for all full-time Texas teachers and librarians.

  • Many other provisions carried over from the House legislation, including increased funding for compensatory education, dual language and summer programming, and an Early Literacy Allotment sufficient to fund full-day Pre-K statewide.

  • The financial implications of the bill remain unclear. A complete set of runs detailing the impact of the legislation on individual districts and the state is expected before a final Senate vote. Given this uncertainty, many witnesses chose to testify “On” rather than “For” the bill.

  • Still, most praised the bill’s key tenets, such as strategic compensation and outcomes-based funding. In fact, these student-focused policy measures received greater support during yesterday’s Senate hearing than they did in the House.

InvestEdTX released a new podcast episode featuring four experienced educators.

  • The teachers, all of whom are Teach Plus Policy Fellows, shared their personal insights on key school finance recommendations.

  • They also spoke to the need for greater educator involvement in school funding decision-making: “Oftentimes, you tell students, “Don't make me use my teacher voice.” And you know that when teachers use their teacher voice, they're serious. But we don't often do that to the people who make choices about what we do in our schools or our classrooms every day.”

Next, you can expect:

  • A vote on CSHB 3 in the Senate Education Committee (TBD)

  • A vote on CSHB 3 on the floor of the Texas Senate (TBD)

  • A conference committee between House and Senate members to reconcile differences between the chambers’ school finance bills (TBD)

We will continue to provide regular updates on school finance legislation throughout the 86th Legislative Session. Please feel free to share with your network of fellow advocates. We appreciate your work on behalf of Texas students.

The InvestEdTX Team

Joshua Kumler