Straus Thanks House for Effort to Help Schools
Throughout the 2017 legislative session, Speaker Joe Straus and other members of the Texas House worked to begin reforming the state's school finance system. These reform efforts would have put $1.8 billion into Texas public schools and reduced the amount of local tax dollars shared through the Robin Hood system by $400 million over two years. These reforms were included in House Bill 21, which the Texas House overwhelming approved in April.
However, the Texas Senate declared House Bill 21 "dead" on Wednesday and refused to appoint conferees to negotiate a final version of the bill. The Senate's decision came after the Senate stripped 70 percent of the funding out of the bill and injected into the bill a plan to created voucher-like Education Savings Accounts that would allow taxpayer dollars to go to public schools.
Speaker Straus expressed disappointment that the Senate ended the effort to improve school finance.
“I want to thank Dan Huberty, Diego Bernal and the members of the House Committee on Public Education for their incredibly diligent and thoughtful work over the last year on the issue of school finance," Speaker Straus said. "I also want to thank the members of the Texas House for strongly supporting House Bill 21. The House passed a bill that put more dollars into almost every district, made needed changes to our funding formulas, and kept more local dollars in local schools. We also provided critical funding to help students with disabilities in House Bill 21 and House Bill 23."
Speaker Straus added, “The House does great work, but we can't fix school finance by ourselves, and this hasn't been a priority for the Senate. The Senate has chosen to focus on sending taxpayer dollars to private schools. Most House members don't support that idea, as today's vote once again showed. We appointed members of a conference committee today because the House was willing to continue working on public school finance immediately. Unfortunately, the Senate walked away and left the problems facing our schools to keep getting worse.”