Last Thursday, I joined several of my Democratic House colleagues as we unveiled the Texas House Democratic Caucus’ Texas Kids First Plan, which would set aside $14.5 billion to address many of the critical needs facing our public education system.
The nuts-and-bolts of the plan:
- Put more money into our classrooms by raising per-student funding
- Give teachers and support staff a much-needed raise, while also helping them with health care premiums and covering the cost of classroom supplies
- Fund full-day Pre-K
- Add counselors to campuses to help address mental health needs
All this, while giving Texas homeowners a real property tax break by doubling the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000. Which, unlike the 2.5% revenue cap being proposed by the governor and lieutenant governor, will keep money in the pockets of homeowners.
Early estimates show that homeowners in Arlington ISD will save $342 per year and Mansfield ISD taxpayers will save around $385 per year under our plan. This will force the state to pick up more of the tab for public education, a share that has been dwindling over the past 10 years. Local taxpayers now pick up the majority of the cost of neighborhood schools.
Here’s a snapshot of property tax savings for homeowners in several North Texas communities:
Yes, adding more money to our classrooms, providing full-day Pre-K and paying teachers and support staff more will cost money. As I mentioned above, an estimated $14.5 billion for the two-year state budget cycle. Our Texas kids and teachers are worth every penny (and more) of this investment.
Texas will have a record $15 billion expected in the Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the Rainy Day Fund) at the end of the budget cycle. This is coupled with a positive economic outlook and the need to revisit outdated tax exemptions that have cost our state billions of dollars.
The money is there, we just need to make our kids, our classrooms, our teachers and the future of our state a priority.
We have the plan to do it.