Rep. Biedermann Explains Vote On School Finance Bill (HB 21)

April 21, 2017

Kyle BiedermannThis week, the Texas house passed HB 21, Chair­man Huber­ty’s school finance bill. There were only 16 no votes on the mea­sure, and I was one of those no votes.

Here’s why:

- If you will recall, I vot­ed against the bud­get a few weeks ago based in part on the pos­si­bil­i­ty of HB 21 pass­ing and the effect it would have on the bud­get. In order to fund the $1.8 bil­lion price tag HB 21 would incur, we would have to defer a sched­uled pay­ment to the Foun­da­tion School pro­gram of $1.8 bil­lion into the next bien­ni­um. Many in the house claimed we wouldn’t use account­ing maneu­vers to bal­ance the bud­get, how­ev­er, the house did this regard­less, and did so on the backs of pub­lic school stu­dents. HB 21 is spend­ing mon­ey we do not have, and bud­get rid­ers have admit­ted such by using account­ing gim­micks to pay for this legislation.

- So, for me, the deci­sion on the bill came down to fis­cal issues and bud­get ram­i­fi­ca­tions — not nec­es­sar­i­ly the pol­i­cy of the mea­sure. The fis­cal impact of this bill was not fair to the tax­pay­ers or edu­ca­tors in the state of Texas. I have been in con­tact with many teach­ers from my dis­trict, and they are all con­cerned that their tax­es are increas­ing faster than their pay. This is not right.

- I real­ize folks will say that a no vote shows the lack of car­ing about pub­lic edu­ca­tion or the need to address school finance issues. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. 

- In fact, next week, the House Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion com­mit­tee will be hear­ing HB 3759, my bill designed to relieve the finan­cial bur­den unfund­ed state man­dates place on pub­lic schools. I firm­ly believe that the “one size fits all” sys­tem is the prob­lem, and that local school dis­tricts know how to spend their mon­ey bet­ter than those of us in Austin. Dur­ing this tight bud­get cli­mate, we need to look for cre­ative ways to direct mon­ey back to local school dis­tricts, rather than spend­ing mon­ey we don’t have. 

- I appre­ci­ate all the time and effort Chair­man Huber­ty and the pub­lic edu­ca­tion com­mit­tee put into the craft­ing of HB 21. And I sin­cere­ly hope that HB 21, since it did pass the house, can be a step in the right direc­tion to tru­ly address our school finance problems.
- As always, I wel­come your feed­back. If you have any ques­tions about HB 3759, or on my vote on HB 21, please don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact my capi­tol office at 512–463-0325, or my dis­trict office at 830–990-0185.

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