AUSTIN, Texas — As lawmakers from the Texas House of Representatives and Senate meet in conference committee to hash out their differences on House Bill 3 – the school finance reform bill – school district and chamber of commerce leaders from across the state held simultaneous news conferences in Austin, Houston and Dallas to weigh in on something they say would be detrimental to public schools.
Currently, the state's school finance formulas are calculated using prior year property values to estimate tax revenue. School leaders say this helps in their months-long budget planning because the prior year values won't change, allowing for more accurate figures.
But under the Senate version of House Bill 3, the state would use current year property values.
Central Texas district leaders said that means they won't find out exactly how much money they will have to work with until later in the year.
"You're in a huge bind where you can actually start the year and your values come out after protest and they turn out to be lower or higher, it's a huge swing in your budget," explained Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Douglas Killian, PhD. "You may have to lay off teachers in the middle of the year to fix a budget."
The school leaders say using current year values could also lead to higher recapture payments to the state.
Under the House version of the bill, the prior year values would be used.
Lawmakers have about 10 days left to reach a compromise before the session ends.
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