Analysis: Struggle over education reform just starting between Texas House and Senate

For decades there have been calls to reform education funding in Texas. Now, both the Texas House and Senate have proposed ways to increase school funding.

One proposal promises teachers $5,000 raises, while the other would dismantle the Robin Hood funding system and also cut property taxes.

“It's hard to see $5,000 teacher pay raises, funding per student, full day pre-k, and tax reductions all in a single package, that would be quite expensive,” said Cal Jillson, SMU political science professor. “So we will see how they trim back on each of those to get a manageable package.”

Jillson says Texas does have an increase in revenue this year, which will help pay for education reform, but there will still have to be cuts in other areas.

“Budget always tightens up,” Jillson said. If there are lower priorities than education, almost everything is, they will cut there.”

On the House side: an aggressive plan to dismantle the messy Robin Hood funding system, extend Pre-K to a full day, and cut property taxes. The price tag is $9 billion.

On the Senate side: a plan to raise teacher pay by $5,000, but leave the bemoaned recapture system in place. The price tag is $4 billion.

“I think the House bill is better, the House bill is more complete at this stage,” Jillson said. “I do think the Senate will have to come to the House, because people expect after all this discussion that you are not going to get property tax increases to remove funding from the schools, you will get additional funding to make the schools better off.”

Jillson says now the power struggle between Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the new Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will begin and it will likely take months for a final version of funding reform to shape up.