House Votes To Change How Texas Funds Its Public Education System

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartApril 20, 2017 11:19 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas House of Representatives gave preliminary approval yesterday to a bill that would overhaul the state’s school finance system.

After four hours of debate, the bill won approval 134-16.

Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports that the bill by House Public Education Chair Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) would provide $1.8 billion in additional education funding by reassessing the dollar value assigned to teaching a student attending a public or charter school in Texas.

Huberty says currently school districts receive just over $5,100 per student from the state legislature. Under his bill, most school districts would receive an estimated $125 more per student.

“When you increase the basic allotment it helps all school districts,” Huberty says. “Under House Bill 21, we are taking the basic allotment of $5,140 to $5,350 per student.”

As he spoke about his bill on the House floor, Huberty said that for the last 50 years, the legislature has been involved in one lawsuit or another challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ school finance system.

The Texas Supreme Court in 2016 ruled that Texas’ system for funding public education was constitutional but was also in need of serious reforms. The debate over those reforms is expected to run through the night, Poppe says.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the state’s Tax-Free Weekend, especially if you’ve got kids headed back to school. But there’s another, lesser-known sales tax holiday right around the corner.

April 22nd through the 24, sales tax is waived on emergency preparation supplies.

Chris Bryan is a spokesperson for the Texas Comptroller’s office. He says the idea is to encourage people to plan ahead for disasters.

“Anyone who has lived through spring in central Texas – and really all over the state – knows that the weather here can be unpredictable,” Bryan says. “The time to prepare is before something happens. So our office really wants to give people the chance to either create an emergency kit for the first time or replace items that need to be refreshed.”

Items that may qualify for exemption include portable generators, first aid kits, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and more.

A complete list of tax-exempt items and more information can be found at the Texas Comptroller’s Office website.

Among the many things the University of Texas football team is known for, subtlety isn’t one. Therefore, it wasn’t too surprising that in a flashy video posted Wednesday, the Longhorns unveiled new high-tech lockers in the team’s locker room.

Each of the tricked-out storage closets includes a 37-inch flat screen TV, a digital safe, and ventilation systems to air out sweaty equipment.

College athletic programs often use swanky upgrades like this to woo recruits.

UT-Austin head football coach Tom Herman said it’s “a bit of an arms race when it comes to facilities.”

But building up that arsenal comes with a hefty price tag: each of the lockers costs over $10,000.