AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The battle to decide how Texas pays for public schools is now in the hands of ten people.
A conference committee of five Senators and five House members will negotiate the final school finance plan, also known as HB 3. To succeed, the committee has to reach a deal before the end of the legislative session on May 27th.
We interviewed two of the school finance conferees to get insight into the expectations and challenges ahead.
“School finance has been the number one topic of the session, and it’s going to continue to be so,” Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) said. Senators added dozens of amendments to HB 3. King expects few of those amendments will survive the conference process.
“I think it’s safe to say most of what the Senate did to our bill will come off,” King said. “I’m really optimistic that we’re going to end up still with a very good bill at the end of this process.”
A House Democrat on the committee is also optimistic about the upcoming negotiations.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the Senate,” said Rep. Mary González (D-Clint). “I think it’s the first time ever since I’ve been a legislator that both the House and the Senate are committed to fully funding public education and make sure that we’re putting money into our schools,” she said.
Rep. González listed three priorities for the negotiations: special education funding, full-day Pre-K, and raising the basic allotment the state sends to schools.
“I think both sides agree that we need to be doing something for our kids and our schools,” González said. “To me, there’s nothing that we can’t get through.”