Yesterday I voted against the Senate Committee Substitute to House Bill 21 (HB 21). I voted in favor of HB 21 in its original form that would have helped all school children in Texas. Lt. Gov. Patrick and the Senate amended it beyond recognition on Monday night, changing the direction of the original House-passed school finance bill. The Senate’s substituted version of HB 21 only benefits a narrow fraction of school children and does nothing to help urban school children and districts, including Houston ISD.
The changes made at the direction of Lt. Gov. Patrick on HB 21 continue his assault on urban areas across Texas, including Houston.
Originally the bill provided $1.8 billion for all Texas public schools, including Houston. Per student funding would have increased by $375 per year in the original HB 21 I voted for that the House passed. The Senate’s substituted version of HB 21 lacks equity and provides no additional funding for Houston ISD public school children.
Additionally, the bill now unfairly provides facility funding for charter schools for the first time. The state’s support for public school facilities has declined from 45% in 2000 to only 7% in 2016, putting charter school ahead of our chronically underfunded public schools throughout the state. Lt. Gov. Patrick and the Senate chose winners and losers — and HISD school children lost.
I would have voted in favor of Senate Bill 19 to increase funding for TRS-Care with money from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). The funding for TRS-Care in the Senate’s version of HB 21 takes it from children in Medicaid.
I voted against the Senate changes because they put us in a position where supporting retired teachers comes at the expense of letting down school children and hurting children in Medicaid.