The Texas House Passed House Bill 3. Now What?
Posted on 04/04/2019

What is House Bill 3?
House Bill 3 is the major school finance legislation in the Texas House. It was approved with an overwhelming vote of the House on April 3. The bill would put $9 billion in additional state funding into the public education system. It would increase the basic unit of funding that schools receive for every student, it would revise the formulas that determine how much money schools receive, and it would provide funding for school districts to lower tax rates by 4 cents per $100 of valuation.

Now that the House has passed the bill, what happens next?
The Texas Senate is expected to debate school finance legislation in the coming weeks. If the Senate passes a different version than the House plan, the House can either approve what the Senate passed, or a small group of members from the House and Senate can start meeting to write a final version of the bill. That final version would then again go before the full House and Senate, and it would ultimately need to be signed into law by the Governor.

How would the bill affect GCISD?
The version of the bill that came before the Texas House on Wednesday would increase funding in GCISD by roughly $400 per student, or about $5 million districtwide, as compared to what the district would receive under current law in 2020, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

The bill would also reduce the amount of money that the state takes away from GCISD taxpayers through Robin Hood by about $16 million. This will keep local tax dollars in our community. But it’s important to remember that this bill is just one step in the process. The ultimate amount of funding available for education in our district will be determined by a variety of factors, including the final school finance bill and decisions made by our Board of Trustees.

Why is it that our Robin Hood payments might decrease after years of increases?
House Bill 3 would provide the most substantial increase in state funding for education in many years. For years, property values in our community and elsewhere have increased, and the state has absorbed most of the additional money you’ve been paying due to rising values. In fact, the state has been penalizing districts that lower their tax rates when property values go up. The state has been using higher property tax payments to replace state dollars in the education system. The shortage of state funding has caused Robin Hood payments in GCISD to grow substantially.

House Bill 3 would reverse that trend by actually putting more state dollars (revenue from state sales taxes, for example) into public education, which decreases the need for local property taxpayers to contribute so much. And when more of the cost is paid with state revenue instead of local school property taxes, there is less of a need for the state to take money out of GCISD for Robin Hood.

Why doesn’t the bill abolish Robin Hood altogether?
Abolishing Robin Hood altogether would require the state to spend many billions more than even House Bill 3 contains for education. Otherwise, the school finance system would be vulnerable to a court challenge saying it does not provide equitable education funding as required by the Texas Constitution.

How would House Bill 3 affect teacher pay?
An amendment added to the bill says at least 25 percent of the money districts receive due to the increase in the Basic Allotment (the core unit of per-student funding that the state distributes to school districts) must go toward increasing salaries and wages of full-time employees, including teachers. The bill would give local school boards discretion over how to distribute those dollars.