Monthly Archives: May 2019

The 86th Texas Legislature adjourned ‘Sine Die’ — a Latin term meaning ‘without a day’ or if you’re more layman than Latin “let’s head to the house” — on Memorial Day.

And they ended much like they started – in agreement on the 2 big ticket items of school finance reform and property tax relief.

The Big 3  leaders – Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and newly minted House Speaker Dennis Bonnen – came to agreement on the last weekend of the session but lest you were worried that the clock would run out..

As we predicted in January, the 86th session was in fact a ‘blocking and tackling’ session, focused mostly on the fundamentals.

Here are a few details on the school finance and property tax package:

  • The total of the spend and cuts is $11.6B.
  • The state is increasing its share of public education from 38% to 45%, with an additional $4.5 billion going into classrooms.
  • There will be a total of $5B in statewide property tax relief for homeowners in the next 2 years.
  • The ‘Robin Hood’ approach to school finance is being decreased by 47%, helping districts like Austin keep more money at home.
  • The amount taxes can be increased is capped  – for school taxes @ 2.5%; for cities/counties @ 3.5%, without a vote of the people.
  • All public school teachers will get a $4,000 raise and be eligible for incentives and bonuses.
  • Low income students will get pre-K education – a priority for Governor Abbott – and dyslexia allotments are increased.

All in all, Lt. Governor Patrick called them “transformational ideas”

The so-called ‘tax swap’ – lowering property taxes while raising the state sales tax by 1% to make up the difference – didn’t survive.

And they did it while balancing a $ 250 billion dollar 2-year state budget.  (It’s true – the state Constitution requires it.)

Pundits have observed that it wasn’t a great session for the business community but a better system of education will ensure Texas students can fill the jobs being created and attracted to the state, and lower property taxes helps everybody.

Before adjournment, Speaker Bonnen told his House colleaguess: “it was a good session, members.”  Some of us are just glad those days are over.

– Craig Casselberry