On the Spot: Localizing legislation (with video)

Rep. Johnson prioritizes education funding at first Town Hall update


Bren Flechtner

On Thursday, State Representative Julie Johnson welcomes Coppell Mayor Karen Hunt during the Town Hall & Legislative Update at the Cozby Library and Community Commons. Hunt was among the community members who attended the event, which discussed state budgets and bills impacting House District 115.

Christine Zacuai, Executive News Editor

On Thursday night, the Cozby Library and Community Commons saw the gathering of local community leaders, first responders and residents in House District 115 for the first Town Hall and Legislative Update under State Rep. Julie Johnson.


Since her election to office in November, Johnson made it her priority to initiate more town halls during her term.


“One of the things that Rep. Johnson campaigned on was listening to everyone: whether they are Democrat, Republican, Independent, and getting their feedback on what she’s doing and what she needs to be doing,” District 115 director Sarah Slamen said.


The town hall consisted of speakers from the Dallas Hispanic Firefighters, Irving Police Association and Carrollton Police Association, as well as the unity of four mayors within District 115: Coppell Mayor Karen Hunt, Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer, Farmers Branch Mayor Robert Dye and Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer.


After a near two-month session, Johnson updates members on issues at the forefront of district 115 such as school finance reform, property taxes, and healthcare with two vital bills: HB2 and HB3.


Currently, Johnson has signed 19 bills and joint co-authored 22 others.


Bills such as HB2, which fights for a cap on property taxes, and HB3, a bill focusing on education funding, plans to increase student allotment by $800 and place $9 billion into public schools are advocated by Johnson.


“We have to fix our education finance system, so that we can also fix our property taxes. Our schools are underfunded, our teachers are underpaid, we have to do a better job and I’m really excited that this HB3 comes into play and puts another $9 billion in education and it’s a real big benefit for Coppell ISD,” Johnson said.


Though the HB3 bill is admittedly not up to standard for special needs programs, the bill boasts significant improvements from last year. It plans to bring down recapture estimates in largely populated recapture school districts such as Coppell ISD and Carrollton ISD by lowering their  current recapture estimate from $54 million and $36 million to $36 million dollars and $2 million, respectively. The bill aims to further yield $15 million to Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD and $4.5 million to Coppell ISD.


“What Rep. Johnson talked about today with HB3 is going to inject money into public education for the first time since it was cut way back in 2008,” CISD Board of Trustees President Tracy Fisher said. “She will work hard to support her constituents and it’s refreshing. She talked a lot about bipartisanship and that’s a good thing.”


Concerns ranging from college transfer to even school club funding were later brought to the legislator’s attention by a Q&A card panel at the end of the event.


With big-time issues such as school funding being discussed, Johnson’s committee advocates the young are more important now than ever.


“As soon as you guys turn 18, and you have the right to vote, you need to vote. And then after that, you need to make sure you hold people accountable – which means attending events like this, either by watching them online and live streaming or showing up in person,” Slamen said.