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Legislation Filed to Facilitate Charter Growth in Texas

March 1, 2017

Representative Jim Murphy of Houston, District 133, is a champion for public charter schools at the Texas Capitol. Last session, Rep. Murphy filed two of TCSA’s legislative priorities: HB 3018, which increased public charter school access to the Permanent School Fund (PSF) Bond Guarantee Program, and HB 1276/HJR 85, which exempted property leased to a public charter school from ad valorem taxation for the duration of the lease. These important pieces of priority legislation put tax dollar savings where there are needed most –in Texas classrooms. Representative Murphy is once again a champion for public charter school students as he has filed these two key TCSA legislative priority bills again this session.

"These bills provide much needed help to our public school students. Together, they will increase the funds available for public charter school classrooms without increasing taxes. Public charter schools have more demand from students and families than they can meet. The additional funds will improve access and availability and allow students to get a great education," said Rep. Murphy.

HB 467 expands the capacity of the Permanent School Fund (PSF) Bond Guarantee Program for public charter schools. The PSF Bond Guarantee Program was created by the Texas Legislature to enhance a public school’s credit rating and thereby lower the interest rates on bonds issued by public schools. Since 2014, public charter schools that meet the eligibility criteria have been able to issue and refinance bonds with the PSF Bond Guarantee Program, saving millions of taxpayer dollars that were able to stay in the classroom. However, currently, charter schools may access only the portion of the PSF not being used by traditional ISDs, providing less than 10 percent of public charter schools access to this successful savings tool. HB 467 would increase charter school access by allowing charter schools to access the total capacity of the program subject to the percentage of students enrolled in public charter schools. There would be no cost to the state, and no impact to traditional district bond guarantees. Yet HB 467 would have a huge impact on public charter school savings, and thereby provide public charter schools more opportunity to grow and provide a quality education to the students of Texas.

Separately, Rep. Murphy filed HB 382/HJR 34 in the House while Chairman Larry Taylor filed the companion SB 1030/SJR 42 in the Senate to provide property tax relief to public charter schools by providing an exemption to a property owner that leases property to a public charter school for the duration of the lease. The property owner must demonstrate that the savings due to the exemption will be passed through to the public charter school, resulting in a savings of public tax dollars that can be spent on salaries, technology, and other critical classroom needs. Like traditional school districts, charter schools should not have to pay property taxes when leasing instructional facilities. Notably, HB 382/HJR 34—SB 1030/SJR 42 would not have a significant fiscal impact on local taxing authorities. Rather, the bill would result in significant savings for public charter schools that do not have the ability to levy taxes and are not provided facilities funding from the state. HB 382/HJR 34 –SB 1030/SJR 42 will allow public tax dollars to be used as the Legislature intended—for the public education of the students of Texas.

TCSA thanks Rep. Murphy and Chairman Taylor for their commitment to public charter schools.

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