The 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3, a sweeping and historic bipartisan education finance bill signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Since its passing, House Bill 3 has been the talk of the town by local representatives, school boards, educators and community members alike. It is a complex and monumental bill, restructuring financial aspects of Texas education. The bill can be broken down into four major policy areas: teacher support, improving student outcomes, increasing funding and reduction and reform of property taxes and recapture.
House Bill 3 focuses on supporting teachers and rewarding teacher excellence by allocating more funds towards those goals. Under House Bill 3, the minimum salary for teachers has been increased between $5,500 and $9,000.
The bill also requires districts to allocate 30 percent of their year-over-year budget increase toward full-time employee compensation increases and 75 percent of the total must go to teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors. Increasing retirement funds for all educators through the state share of Teacher Retirement System payments was also included.
The bill established a new Teacher Incentive Allotment that would provide between $3,000 and $32,000 per year per high-performing teachers, with higher incentive funding going to high poverty and rural campuses. Extra funding for an enhanced Teacher Mentor Program was included as well to improve support for teachers during their first two years of teaching.
The bill protects students and the integrity of teaching by also creating a Do-Not-Hire Registry that ensures non-certified personnel will not work at schools if they have ever abused or had an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
Improving Student Outcomes
House Bill 3 also focuses on improving student outcomes through several initiatives.
Prioritizing early literacy through a required high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten program for all eligible four-year-old children will be funded by an Early Education Allotment. A Dual Language Allotment will require school boards to adopt and monitor early childhood literacy and mathematics proficiency plans as well as ensure the use of a systematic phonics curriculum. Elementary school teachers will be required to attend reading academies and be trained on the science of teaching reading.
College, career and military readiness was also addressed, requiring school boards to adopt and monitor college, career and military readiness plans. Districts will be rewarded bonuses for CCMR graduates. The bill also increased funding for industry certifications, college prep exams, career and technical education including computer science and funds innovative high school models designed to help students graduate with an associate’s degree.
Improving outcomes in terms of special education will be aided by increasing funding, creating a new Dyslexia Allotment and encouraging teacher training in autism.
Additionally, the bill expands learning opportunities by providing funding for an optional extended year for elementary schools, establishing a new summer learning program focused on career and technical education, establishing a blended learning grant program and providing funding to reimburse high school equivalency exam fees.
House Bill 3 increases funding for low-income students, with more funds allocated in the highest poverty areas, and making a variety of formula changes so that property wealth matters far less than ever before, with district funding now being determined almost entirely on student need.
Reduce and Reform Property Taxes and Recapture
This part of House Bill 3 cuts property taxes in the first year by an average of eight cents per $100 of assessed value, bringing the tax rate for maintenance and operations down from $1.17 to $1.05. It provides automatic tax rate reductions starting in the second year, if the property value grows by more than 2.5 percent per year and reduces recapture from $3.6 billion to $2 billion in the first year.