House Representative

Elkins, Gary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/23/2006

SCHOOL FINANCE REFORM

Educational Excellence & Record Property Tax Relief

“Legislators have passed comprehensive school finance reform that rewards teachers and reforms our schools, provides a record 33 percent property tax cut that will make homeownership more affordable for millions of Texans and reduces the net tax burden by nearly $7 billion over the next three years. Because of this plan, our schools will improve, our economy will grow, jobs will be created, and opportunity will abound."


The school finance reform plan is a significant victory for taxpayers, employers, teachers and schoolchildren. Its chief accomplishments include:


• Higher Pay for Teachers: A $2,000 pay raise for teachers, the largest performance pay plan in the nation to reward classroom excellence, and $1.8 billion in new education funding this year.


• Historic Property Tax Relief: A $15.7 billion property tax cut that will reduce the property tax bill on an average-priced home in Texas by nearly $2,000 over the next three years.


• A Record Net Tax Cut: A net tax cut of $6.9 billion over the next three years that will stimulate the economy and create jobs.


• Taxpayer Protections: Strong taxpayer protections that dedicate excess tax revenue to property tax relief and that require a vote of the people in order for local school leaders to raise taxes more than four cents for every $100 of appraised value.


• Robin Hood Relief and Improved Equity: Districts will be able to keep close to $1 billion more in local property tax dollars by 2008, and many districts will no longer see a dime leave their classrooms while the state makes an unprecedented commitment to equity in education funding.


• Funding Focused on Excellence: More than $1 billion over three years to improve high schools and reduce the dropout rate, a stronger math and science curriculum, and increased disclosure of school expenditures to ensure accountability in school budgeting.


Educational Excellence:
“Legislators passed a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, funded the most significant performance pay plan in the nation to reward classroom excellence, increased funding equity, reduced the divisive impact of Robin Hood and invested more than $1 billion to improve Texas high schools and reduce the dropout rate.”


• $2,000 Pay Raise for Teachers: Legislators passed a $2,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers, restoring the full amount of the teacher health stipend and building on the positive trend in teacher compensation that has seen salaries increase by $11,700 for teachers in the classroom since 1999.


• Performance Pay for Excellent Teachers: With the stroke of a pen, Governor Perry will create the largest performance pay plan in the nation to reward classroom excellence. With $260 million for bonuses of up to $10,000 per teacher for locally-designed incentive programs, and another $100 million for the Governor’s Educator Excellence Awards Program, Texas will take the national lead in rewarding educational excellence and attracting top-performing teachers to struggling campuses.


• Improving High Schools: HB 1 provides more than $1 billion over three years to reforms Texas high schools and further the goals of the governor’s high school initiative, which are to reduce the dropout rate, replicate successful school models and prepare more students for college.


• Raising the Bar: Legislators strengthened the curriculum by requiring four years of math and science to better prepare students for the high-tech economy.


• Greater Financial Accountability: Taxpayers will now be able to get more detailed information on school expenditures because of new financial accountability reforms.


• Robin Hood Relief: By 2008, close to $1 billion in local property tax revenues will remain in local districts to be spent on local students instead of being exported to other areas of the state.


• Greater Funding Equity: The state will make a historic commitment to funding fairness, achieving up to 94 percent funding equity on enrichment dollars.


• Teacher Mentoring: Millions of dollars will be dedicated to teacher mentoring programs to keep young educators in the classroom.


• More Money for Schools: With $1.8 billion to fund teacher pay increases and classroom excellence initiatives, as well as funding provided last session, legislators have increased school funding by $3.4 billion in the current fiscal biennium.


• State Share Increases Dramatically: By next year the state share of education funding will increase to 50 percent, reversing a trend scheduled to take us to 34 percent in FY2007 if nothing had been done.


Record Property Tax Relief:
“State leaders have passed a huge property tax cut that will make homeownership more affordable, make Texas employers more competitive, and ensure the state has addressed the Supreme Court’s mandate.”


• Record Property Tax Cut: The school finance reform plan reduces property taxes on homeowners and employers by $15.7 billion over the next three years. The owner of an average-priced home in Texas will see their property tax bill decrease by nearly $2,000 over the next three years. This is the largest property tax cut in Texas history, and will result in economic growth and new jobs.


• Voter Approval of Tax Hikes: Voters will have to approve local school tax hikes above four cents for every $100 of assessed value. Unlike today’s law, which allows local school boards to raise taxes up to six cents every year without a rollback election, the new law allows them only four cents above the new rate one time without an election.


New Tax Revenues go to Property Tax Relief: Additional revenue generated by the reformed business tax, cigarette tax, and motor vehicle sales tax will be dedicated to property tax relief. One hundred percent will be dedicated to property tax relief as long as rates are $1 or more for every $100 of assessed value, and two-thirds will go to property tax relief and one-third will go to education when rates go below $1.


Contact:
Debra Clonts
Chief of Staff
(512) 463-0722
debra.clonts@house.state.tx.us