When a $9 billion “school finance reform” bill reached the floor of the House and most “conservatives” remained silent, only State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) had the courage to vote for taxpayers and against the proposal.
“My constituents sent me to Austin to get real property tax relief, to end Robin Hood, and put more dollars into the classrooms of HD92,” Stickland told Texas Scorecard after the vote. “Unfortunately, the bill presented in front of us today failed to meet that charge, and I could not in good conscience vote for it, regardless of any political consequences.”
As passed, HB 3 would only provide small amounts of temporary relief to property taxpayers, without offering voters any additional control over their already out-of-control property tax burden or skyrocketing appraisals.
Early on in the debate, State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) asked Huberty how the tax rate compression would last without any mechanism to allow for voter control on property tax increases, saying he was concerned they would be “washed out very quickly.” Huberty implied such measures might be in place when the property tax reform bill, House Bill 2, likely reaches the floor next week.
Of course, when HB 2 was passed out of committee last week and stripped of any voter approval measures for school districts, members were assured it would be added back in HB 3.
It was not, and despite his theatrical insistence that the bill must include real reform measures and improvements like merit-based pay for teachers, Schaefer and every other Republican and Democrat—save for Stickland—voted for and applauded the legislation.
Democrat members of the legislature were thrilled with the bill, giving closing speeches praising the $9 billion it spends on education, teacher pay raises, and funding for all-day pre-kindergarten.
“In February, Texas House Democrats laid out [our education plan],” said Austin Democrat State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, adding, “I’m pleased to say that this bill incorporates many parts of the plan.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott traversed the House floor early in the debate, telling members to support the bill despite its lack of meaningful property tax relief or reform. Abbott did not respond to request for comment from Texas Scorecard on whether he supports leaving schools out of the voter approval measures.
The bill will now be sent to the Senate, where they gave some early indication last week that they will match the House on education “reform” spending.