Local legislators explain local meaning to Texas school finance reform

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GRAYSON COUNTY, Tex. (KXII) -- "You can't have meaningful property tax reform unless you have meaningful school finance reform," said State Representative Reggie Smith.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill, the school finance reform bill.

That's an $11.6 billion landmark bill that will boost per-student funding and reduce property taxes across the state.

"Texas homeowners are being taxed out of their homes. So we must reform and provide relief," said State Senator Pat Fallon.

The bill granted $6.5 billion to new public education spending and $5.1 billion to lowering property tax, an amount not completely satisfactory for Fallon.

"I would have like to have seen more like seven billion," said Fallon.

In fact, it's something he says he plans to address in the next session and wants to see more funds devoted to.

"With growth and with the economy being very healthy, in two years, we're of course hoping for another bounty, another surplus, where we can use that for more relief to homeowners," said Fallon.

On Wednesday, Governor Abbott is expected to sign Senate Bill 2, the property tax companion to House Bill 3, the bill proposed a 3.5 percent cap on cities and counties and a two point five percent cap on community colleges for property tax increases in a single year.

To put that into perspective, this year, Grayson County raised property taxes by 5.85 percent.

If this bill had been a law this year, the county would lose out on about just over $800,000.

It's something Reggie Smith says is a necessary evil.

"Those folks like to live within their means. They're used to living within their means,' said Smith.

Smith says that $800,000 should be in the pockets of the property owners and now, that's where it will stay.

"I'm very hopeful that between SB2 and HB3, which are the companion pieces of legislation, that the reform will become what's necessary to take the burden off of them," said Smith.

Both legislators agree: there is much more work to be done.

"This is a big step in the right direction but we're not through," said Fallon.