10 Days to Go in the 88th Regular Session

Today is the 130th day of the 88th Legislative Session. With only 10 days remaining, the House and Senate are busy passing (and defeating) legislation as the deadline approaches. Saturday is the last day for House committees to report Senate bills. Wednesday, May 24th is the last day for the House to consider remaining Senate bills. The last few days of the Session are spent accepting amendments made in the opposite house, or going to conference committee.

Vouchers Meet a Roadblock in the House

Senate Bill 8, legislation that would allow parents to use public money to subsidize private school tuition, was heard by the House Public Education Committee on May 15th. Only invited testimony was allowed in this abruptly scheduled meeting. The House committee substitute that was discussed in the hearing reduced the scope of the education savings accounts proposal from the Senate, and would have increased the number of assessment tests given each year. As of this writing, the House has not taken a vote on the committee substitute, so it remains in committee.

Update on Teacher and Staff Shortage and Retention

SB 9, legislation that would raise teacher salaries and expand the Teacher Incentive Allotment was reported as a substitute from the House Public Education Committee today. Details on the changes are not yet available. House Bill 100, which would increase teacher and employee compensation, has passed the House but is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

Property Tax Bill Passes Both Houses, but Differences Remain

The Texas House Thursday approved, with changes, Senate Bill 3, the proposal to cut property taxes, and sent it back to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate can agree to the House’s changes, or it can decide to take it to a conference committee between the chambers.

The House version of Senate Bill 3 would send $12 billion to school districts to bring down tax rates, increase the state’s homestead exemption on public school taxes from $40,000 to $100,000 (with an additional $10,000 for seniors and disabled homeowners), and lower the state’s appraisal cap from 10% to 5%. The exemption under the Senate’s plan was $70,000, with additional allowances for seniors and disabled homeowners. The merged plans would amount to $16.3 billion in total property tax relief.

The House also approved a related constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 3, to let Texans vote in November on whether to compress the school district tax rate by 15 cents. A 10-cent compression has already been approved in the budget.
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