State Rep. Dan Huberty tabled until 2021 a proposal to pay for long-term school district tax cuts by raising the state sales tax.
The House and Senate will have to negotiate their significant differences over the bill – including how to offer teacher pay raises and property tax relief – in a conference committee before it can be signed into law.
The fast-tracked revision and vote came a day after the House OK’d a property tax reform bill, making it contingent on the passage of school finance reform.
The new Senate version of a school finance bill would raise the base funding per student and provide money for free full-day pre-K for low-income students.
The proposal would boost the sales tax from 6.25% to 7.25%, generating revenue for property tax relief, if voters approve a constitutional amendment.
House Bill 3 would increase base funding for each student, compress tax rates, and reduce the amounts wealthier districts pay to shore up poorer districts.
Senate Bill 12 would boost state, school district and teacher contributions over the next six years. Retirees would get one-time “13th” checks of up to $500.
The Senate is proposing $5,000 raises for each teacher and librarian. The House is calling for raising minimum salaries and increasing benefits.
The proposal faces an uphill climb in the lower chamber, with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen saying he prefers to give school districts flexibility on addressing teacher pay.
Average Texans and lawmakers alike are going back to the basics on school finance as the State Legislature prepares to tackle a longstanding challenge.