Texas School Coalition Executive Director Christy Rome provided testimony in favor of House Bill 100 to the House Public Education Committee on April 4, 2023.

The last time the Legislature increased the Basic Allotment was 2019, and in the four years that have passed since that time, the rate of inflation has increased by 14.5 percent.  Because of inflation, the buying power of the dollars used to fund schools has been greatly diminished, making it challenging for schools to keep pace with compensating teachers and other school staff and affording the increased cost of goods, gas, and insurance.

We want to thank Chairman King for bringing forward a bill that will increase the Basic Allotment, which in our view is the single most important thing state leaders can do to improve funding for schools statewide.

We also appreciate that this bill provides for the extension of the formula transition grant to prevent the 228 schools currently receiving that grant from losing funding two years down the road.  Along those lines, we hope that we have the opportunity to work with you to ensure that the language regarding teacher pay increases does not carry the unintended consequence of requiring new spending without providing new dollars to pay for it.  We worry that it may not be evident in school finance runs on this bill that, for formula transition grant districts, revenue which shows up as “gains” of “new money” is actually replacing the revenue provided by the grant in the past.  HB 100 causes those districts to continue to receive that funding in 2025 (which is great, as it doesn’t expire), but that appears on paper to be new money, when actually the district has been receiving these dollars all along. When one source of funding is simply replacing another — rather than adding new money — it is very challenging to comply with a new requirement to provide a pay raise for certain employees.

Schools want to provide pay raises for teachers (and for bus drivers, food service personnel and other staff too), but we must also consider the full picture of what is possible.

Finally, the Coalition supports property tax relief.  We always have, as that helps to reduce the amount of recapture our districts must pay.  But an increase to the Basic Allotment serves to reduce recapture while also delivering needed resources to our schools for the benefit of students.  The same $17 billion being invested by the Legislature to the benefit of Texas taxpayers could instead be invested through HB 100 to the benefit of Texas students.

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