Representative Jared Patterson (R- Frisco) finished a whirlwind legislative session last week that will certainly make its mark on the local area. His 140 day stint in Austin was highlighted by school finance reform, taxation limits, abortion regulations and border security funding.
The main issue on the agenda this session, as was set by legislative leaders including Governor Greg Abbott, was school finance reform. The legislature in 2017 attempted to tackle this problem but could not reach a consensus. They did, however, introduce a school finance council to create solutions for Texas schools. The bill that was signed into law last week pulled ideas from that council’s recommendations and received unanimous approval in both the senate and the house.
Overall the new law will increase funding to schools by $1,020 per student, about 20 percent. School districts will have the autonomy to allocate this money how they would like but the law does encourage schools to spend most of it on teacher salary upticks. Early indications, from Austin, show that teachers with more than five years of experience would be receiving the most formidable gains in salary.
The bill also stipulates a change in paying for school finance. In order to decrease school property taxes, the state will be assuming a larger share of education funding. For Little Elm ISD tax payers, this will mean that tax rates will fall from $1.17 to $1.06 per a $100 valuation. The revenue change for the district will be a $6,485,315 increase in revenue.
How the bill is written also will ensure the tax rate continues to fall in 2021. It is estimated that it may fall by 13 cents more in the next fiscal year on average across the state. For a $250,000 home, this means a $200 tax cut this year and $325 in 2021, according to financial estimates.
“House Bill 3 not only dramatically increases funding directly to the classroom for Texas students and teachers, but also protects Texas property taxpayers by lowering tax rates and capping future growth. With this new plan, school districts in house district 106 will see a net increase of $90.8 million,” Jared Patterson said.
Patterson also came out of Austin with a key property tax reform. Now, if the local districts propose a tax rollback rate of over 3.5 percent, an automatic election to the public will snap into place. The previous percentage this would occur at was eight percent.
Border security and abortion rounded out the final main agenda items that Patterson will leave Austin with. Patterson supported the bill that provided $800 million dollars for state border operations. He also supported a law that will make it a class B misdemeanor for a person to knowingly misrepresent a child to a border agent.
“This legislation is an important response to the border crisis, which has seen many individuals attempting to falsely pass off children as their own to gain admittance to the U.S.,” Patterson said
This does come on the heels of multiple prominent Democrats, from Texas, who have urged lawmakers to decriminalize illegal immigration and make it a civil case. This includes former San Antonio mayor, and current presidential candidate, Julian Castro.
On abortion, Patterson supported a bill that will make it a third degree felony for a physician to not provide the same diligent care to a child that survived a failed abortion attempt. Moreover, bills were passed that will fund “Alternatives to Abortion” clinics through the state and end taxpayer funded transactions with abortion providers.
“This will prevent cities like Austin from offering sweetheart deals to Planned Parenthood- like renting the abortion provider space in city-owned property for $1, as has been documented,” Patterson said.