House leaders laid out HB 3, filed by House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, in a press conference Tuesday morning. The bill is a comprehensive approach to school finance reform, encompassing increases in funding, programmatic enhancements, and employee compensation.

The bill increases the basic allotment for districts from the current $4,765 per student to $6,030 — a significant increase. It includes a program to fully fund pre-K for low-income students and directs additional funds to schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. It also provides more money for dual-language immersion, dyslexia and CTE programs.

With regard to compensation, the bill includes several provisions ranging from an increase in the state minimum salary schedule to a merit pay proposal. (The teacher pay provisions will be detailed in a separate Capitol Update post.) It does not include a specified across-the-board pay raise.

At 186 pages, it will take some additional time to fully analyze HB 3, and we will provide more details as they become available. It is also important to understand that this bill could change significantly as it goes through the legislative process. The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on the bill next Tuesday, and Chair Huberty hopes to get it to the House floor by early April.

The Senate has not yet released its school finance reform legislation, and we cannot predict whether it will look similar to HB 3.

TCTA is working with legislators to improve these bills to ensure that all education employees are fairly compensated and have the resources they need to educate students. We are aware that educators have many questions and that there is much confusion about what various bills do and do not accomplish. It is early enough in the process that many ideas are being proposed, and as the legislation session progresses, clarity will begin to emerge. We will keep our members updated.

TCTA members should be assured that we are fighting for increased salaries for all of our members. In addition, there are other bills in the works addressing health insurance and retiree benefits (as well as other key topics such as testing, school safety and student discipline) — those issues are being given considerable attention as well but are separate from the school finance and teacher compensation discussions.