Politics

BELTON — While House Bill 3, the school finance reform measure, has been in the spotlight, another public education funding proposal is slated to get the attention of voters.

That proposal is Proposition 7. It is one of 10 propositions that Texans will decide in the Nov. 5 election.

State Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, and Tom Maynard, who represents Bell County on the State Board of Education, Monday morning discussed the education-focused proposal during his monthly forum at the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Proposition 7 would allow for state entities managing land and other assets in the Permanent School Fund — an education endowment established by the Legislature in 1854 — to double transfers to the pool of money. That could allow for up to $600 million to be added to public school funding in the next two years.

“It’s specific for revenue off of land,” Maynard, a Florence resident, said. “Currently, we don’t have control of that land so it’s just for the school land board at this point.”

Maynard — who represents District 10, a sprawling area that covers 18 counties, on the State Board of Education — said the Texas Constitution set aside public land to help finance public schools. The General Land Office, which manages the property, essentially acts like a landlord before passing off revenue to the State Board of Education, he said.

However, Maynard explained, the Legislature allowed the General Land Office to keep some of the earnings from the land meant to finance education and let the agency to invest it.

That created a conflict between the General Land Office and the Permanent School Fund, Shine said.

“I think there were some unintended consequences. I think the intent of that was to diversify that fund,” Maynard said.

Proposition 7 will remedy this if voters approve it, the elected officials said.

The Legislature called for a constitutional amendment for the fund transfers through House Joint Resolution 151.

Oct. 7 is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 5 election. Early voting begins Oct. 21 and ends Nov. 1.

Other propositions on the ballot include letting retired police dogs live with their handlers; allowing a state agency on fighting cancer to sell bonds to fund research; creating a flood infrastructure fund; and banning the creation of a state income tax.