52 days remain in the 87th Regular Legislative Session.
We need your help!
When people hear that the federal government sent $18 billion in federal aid for schools in Texas, they think that's a REALLY big number. And it is a big number. But the need for those funds to help students overcome the effects of the pandemic is EVEN BIGGER. We need your help to tell that story. We're asking districts to submit 10-15 second video clips of teachers, counselors, campus principals, and parents speaking to the challenges students have and are facing, how additional funding could help, and specifically how those funds could be used to benefit students.

Please download this information sheet to get all the details on how you can help in 2 minutes or less. We will compile these submissions into a video (or videos) that can be shared, and we would love to see representation from throughout the state. We're asking for submissions by Thursday, April 15. Please feel free to pass this info along to others in your district who may be willing to help.
House Appropriations Committee update
The House Appropriations Committee met on Thursday, April 9 to consider three bills, all proposed by Committee Chairman Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood).

House Bill 2, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, is the bill intended to true up the current budget cycle. That bill can be used to appropriate more dollars that need to be spent or reduce appropriations adopted in last session's budget in order to realize state savings. HB 2 includes a $5.5 billion reduction for the Foundation School Program (FSP). That amount is based on a combination of factors, including $1.5 billion from higher than anticipated property value growth, $1.2 billion from the supplanting of state dollars with federal funding from the CARES Act (ESSER I), and $1.3 billion in increased recapture over and above what was projected under HB 3.

Christy Rome testified on behalf of the Coalition and drew attention to the funding reduction for the FSP. She also reminded committee members that the bill could be used to appropriate federal funding from ESSER II to schools in the current budget cycle and school year so that dollars could be put towards summer school and tutoring to address student learning loss in the summer of 2021.

You can also read more on this topic of a shift in education al funding from the Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey here: Analysis: A $5.5 billion shift in who pays for public education in Texas

The committee also heard HB 2021, which is a bill to put a mechanism in place to allow for the appropriation of federal funds outside the legislative session. A board consisting of the Lt. Governor, Speaker, and two members of both the House and Senate would determine the use of the federal funds. Christy again testified on behalf of the Coalition and pointed out that since the amount of funding due to Texas schools is already known, legislators could appropriate the funds (even if through a contingency rider) so that all elected members of the Legislature could weigh in on that topic and so that schools would know what to expect in a timely manner so as to make plans for how to serve students.

Both bills were left pending in committee, with the expressed intent to vote them out next week. The other bill that will be voted out of this committee next week is the General Appropriations Act, Senate Bill 1. The Committee will meet on Monday, April 12, for that purpose.
"House Bill 3 Clean-Up Bill" heard in Senate Education Committee
The Senate Committee on Education considered the “HB 3 Clean-up Bill,” SB 1536 by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) yesterday. Taylor did not yet introduce a substitute, but he did say that he's working on the provisions related to CTE funding for small and mid-sized districts as well as the Fast Growth Allotment.

Multiple organizations testified regarding the need to make fixes in law to ensure that small and mid-sized districts can receive CTE funding. Ray Freeman testified on behalf of the Equity Center and said that Formula Transition Grant spending is too high and should be capped so that more districts are forced down to the level of formula funding sooner than the year those grants are set to expire.

Christy Rome testified on behalf of the Coalition and said that while appreciative of the intent to correct unintended consequences, there would be more districts with unintended consequences were it not for Formula Transition Grants smoothing that out for a third of the districts in the state. She also testified in regards to concerns regarding the potential for a surprise double recapture payment under this bill and expressed concerns over the repeal of districts' ability to charge tuition.

You can access our section-by-section of the bill that goes through all the details and compares the filed versions of the bill to the House substitute. We will add the Senate substitute once one is available.
What we're expecting in the week ahead
The House and Senate are now to the point of the Legislative Session when they are working five days per week (well, not this week, since last Monday was a holiday). From now until the end of May, we expect them to meet every Monday-Friday (and they'll begin meeting over the weekend too soon enough...). Here is the run-down on committee hearings posted for next week:

The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Monday, April 12, at 10:00 a.m. to hear 13 bills, including SB 1438 by Senator Bettencourt (the companion to HB 3376 by Meyer, which was voted out of the Ways & Means Committee this week). This legislation would prevent a district from accessing temporary disaster pennies without an election if the disaster is an epidemic, pandemic, or drought. Other types of disasters would still make a district eligible. The Texas School Coalition submitted testimony on HB 3376, and will do the same for SB 1438. These bills could take immediate effect if 2/3 of the members in both chambers approve their passage, which make the legislation effective for Tax Year 2021.

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet on Monday, April 12, at 10:00 a.m. to consider a list of 30 bills. On that list is HB 59 by Rep. Murr, which would eliminate the Tier 1 M&O tax rate for school districts in the year 2024, allowing only Tier 2 enrichment pennies. A joint committee would be tasked with coming up with the alternative tax to replace that revenue source for schools. This is a bill that is heard perennially each session as of late.

The House Appropriations Committee will meet on Monday, April 12, at 11:00 a.m. to consider the state budget bill, SB 1. No public testimony will be taken, as the committee received public testimony on HB 1, and they will sub that language in on the Senate bill.

The Senate Local Government Committee will meet on Monday, April 12, at 12:30 p.m. to hear 10 bills, including SB 1428, which is very similar to SB 1438 (described above), except that it only adds 'epidemic' (not pandemic) and would not take effect until Tax Year 2022.

The House Public Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 13, at 8:00 a.m. to hear 31 bills on topics including accessible playgrounds, active shooter drills, special education, assessments, and curriculum (just to name a few).

The Senate Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 13, at 9:00 a.m. They will hear 9 bills on topics including a nonvoting student school board trustee, student IDs, bilingual education, agriculture education for elementary schools, school resource officers, and SBEC.

As you can see above, there are lots of committee hearings scheduled this week to hear many bills. You can access the full list of all House hearings for the week, or the upcoming hearings in the Senate.

To view any House floor or committee actions, you can watch live or view archives.

Or to see a Senate preceding click here to watch live or view archives.
Legislative Update Presentation
Thanks to those of you who joined us for our legislative update this week. If you missed it, but you would like to view the presentation, or if you would like to use the slides within your district, you can access all of that below.

Keep in mind that this presentation was written as to where things stood on April 7, and in the Texas Legislature, sometimes circumstances can quickly change! You may want to check the current status of any of the bills mentioned if this presentation depending on when this information is shared in your district.

Or you can watch a video of the presentation via this link:
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