May 24, 2019
The following is a statement from Sen. Watson regarding the House Bill 3:
House Bill 3 will provide Austin ISD a significant boost in per-student funding while lowering our recapture payment to the state. While House Bill 3 won’t meet everyone’s concept of perfection, it strikes a reasonable balance between investing in education and reducing the state’s reliance on local property taxes.
Compared to current law, Austin ISD will receive the following in the state’s two-year budget:
There’s a lot of good in House Bill 3, including full-day pre-kindergarten and a focus on directing resources to economically disadvantaged students. These two changes alone will have enormous benefits for schoolchildren and the future of our state. Given that Austin has long been paying for full-day pre-kindergarten on its own, this change will free up local dollars to invest in other educational programs.
The bill also includes funding through the transportation allotment, which has previously not been available to school districts that pay recapture, and new dedicated resources for teachers, librarians and others who contribute every day to the success of the children in our public schools. In addition, the controversial outcomes-based funding tied to 3rd-grade test scores has been eliminated.
I’ve been saying for years that the Legislature is the real culprit in rising property tax bills because of the reliance on local property taxes to cover for the state’s constitutional obligation to public schools. House Bill 3 is an important step toward addressing that problem.
Putting more state dollars into reducing school tax rates is the only way we’ll achieve real property tax relief, and the taxpayers of Austin will see their school property tax rate drop. But no one should expect a dramatic reduction in their tax bill as a result. This property tax crisis was created over many years through willful inaction by those in control of the Capitol and it will take a steady commitment over time to fix it. Maintaining that commitment going forward will require the Legislature to take a serious look at how to generate additional state revenue.
As a member of the House Bill 3 conference committee, I appreciate the work of Chairman Taylor and Chairman Huberty as well as the members of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. This issue is one of the most challenging the Legislature faces and they laid the groundwork for a very productive discussion this session.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kate Alexander, Office of Senator Kirk Watson: (512) 463-0114