Notes & Noticias: Let’s Talk School Finance & Homestead Preservation 💵

After the 2011 cuts to our education budget — $5.4 billion from our public schools — the fight for equitable school funding continues.
On Monday, oral arguments were heard for roughly three hours before the Texas Supreme Court.
Last year, District Judge John Dietz ruled the state has inadequately and unfairly funded our schools, which is unconstitutional. Despite the fact that $3 billion in funds has been restored, we have fallen far short in funding public schools for Texas’ 5.2 million kids. The education of our children should not be a political issue driven by outdated formulas. I trust our nine-judge panel will do what’s right for our kids and for the future of Texas.

The Ball is Finally Rolling on Homestead Exemptions

Ten years ago, I passed House Bill 525  that created Homestead Preservation Districts (HPDs) to help cities develop and preserve existing affordable housing opportunities for homeowners. I’ve seen and heard countless stories of residents moving out of my district because — after decades or even generations in their home — they could no longer afford to pay their taxes.
So I am excited that the city is now moving forward with plans to implement HPDs in Austin through a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which will dedicate revenue to developing and preserving affordable housing.
Austin City Council is in the process of meeting with community groups, gathering information and drafting ordinance language.  All of this will lead up to a November public hearing to approve the ordinances.These are the first steps in a long and complex process; as we learn more, we will continue to update you on the latest developments leading up to and beyond the November public hearing.

New Laws Take Effect This Month

On Tuesday, over 700 pieces of legislation passed during the 84th Legislature took effect. These new laws range from new protections for breastfeeding moms to restored funding for our open parks to an end to malicious “revenge porn.” While most of my passed bills took effect immediately, two did have a September 1 provision: H.B. 2050 streamlines voter history information that is provided to the Secretary of State and H.B. 1756 helps our local firefighters secure benefits they need and deserve.
The Legislature meets again in 2017. In the meantime, I will work with my colleagues and constituents to identify any tweaks needed to these laws and new policy areas to make our state a better place. As always, I encourage you to contact my office at (512) 463-0674 with any ideas, comments and questions that you may have.