With every legislative session, there comes a whole host of new ideas, opportunities, and priorities. Given the unique challenges facing each member’s district and the thousands of proposals to address our state’s most pressing issues, it’s sometimes difficult to determine which issues will rise to the top of the heap. One of the best barometers for the priorities that will define each legislative session can be found in the only bill that the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass — the state’s biennial budget.
After over 12 hours of debate on the House floor, the Texas House overwhelmingly approved two pieces of legislation that will determine how we appropriate our state’s resources. The first, Senate Bill 500, is a supplemental bill that will shore up expenses for state programs through the end of the current fiscal year. Some of the highlights of this bill include: $1.3 billion to shore up our teacher pension system and a thirteenth check for our retired teachers, nearly $3 billion to reimburse school districts and state agencies for Hurricane Harvey recovery, and nearly $2 million for state mental hospital improvements.
The second bill we considered this week, House Bill 1, represents the House’s proposal on how the state should allocate our taxpayer dollars for the next biennium. At just under 1000 pages and with over 300 possible amendments, this legislation was debated until the early hours of the morning and ultimately passed with unanimous support. While this legislation has many positive components, some of the most notable parts of the bill directly impact public education and property tax relief. The House invested additional funds towards school districts and property tax relief, both of which are contingent on the passage of House Bill 3. The bill also provides funding to continue our state’s effort to beef up border security, combat human trafficking, increase access to mental healthcare, strengthen state park funding, and bolster efforts to eradicate feral hogs and invasive aquatic plants such as Giant Salvania, just to highlight a few areas. This legislation is a testament to the countless hours and months of hard work that members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Texas House have put into this document. As a strong fiscal conservative, I’m proud this budget addresses our state’s most pressing needs while being fiscally responsible and remaining below the constitutional spending limits without exceeding population plus inflation.
The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: April 3rd the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Madison County Courthouse Annex in Madisonville from 1:30-3:30pm; April 17th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm; and finally on April 24th at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 9:00-11:00am.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.