On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his third inaugural address highlighting his top priorities and policy agenda for the 88th Texas Legislature. Governor Abbott is in position to be the second-longest-serving governor in Texas history. Abbott emphasized the budget surplus, schools, and the power grid as key issues in his speech:
· Budget Surplus – With an historic budget surplus of $32.7 billion, Abbott noted that he will focus on property tax relief emphasizing that he will deliver the “largest property tax cut in the history of the state of Texas.”
· Education – Abbott vowed to make school choice a priority item this legislative session. In addition, he also signaled that school safety remains an issue of critical importance. The current House base budget allotment for public education remains at $38.4 billion, which fully funds enrollment growth requirements under House Bill 3 from the 86th legislature.
· Power Grid – He emphasized the need to strengthen the power grid and said, “We all know that increased demand is going to be placed on the grid as Texas continues to grow,” he continued saying, “so this session, we will build a grid that powers our state — not for the next four years, but for the next 40 years.”
For his part, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick largely seconded Abbott’s policy agenda. Most notably, Patrick highlighted property tax cuts as a key issue saying, “As I have stated previously, multiple times, first and foremost, we must return a significant portion of the record surplus to those who created it: the taxpayers,” Patrick said. “That is why we have increased the homestead exemption to $70,000 in our base budget.” This bump in the homestead exemption is an increase from the previous $40,000. Additionally, Patrick elaborated on the need to strengthen the Texas power grid saying it's one of the most important issues facing this legislative session. To this end, Lt. Gov. Patrick emphasized the need for an increase in dispatchable energy and his desire to build more natural-gas capacity.
Speaker Dade Phelan delivered brief introductory remarks. But his office did issue the following written statement regarding House Bill 1, the Texas House budget; “House Bill 1 maintains our commitment to our public education system, directs much-needed dollars toward enhancing our mental health resources for children and adults, dedicates funding toward our continued border security efforts, supports improvements to our workforce development pipeline and advances our goal of property tax relief.”
Here are a few House budget highlights via Office of the Speaker:
· Border Security - $4.6 billion for continued border security efforts
· Health Care – roughly $2 billion for child protective services, $60 million for community mental health grant programs, $2.4 billion in general revenue funding for HHSC.
· Property Taxes - $15 billion for property tax relief efforts
· Higher Education - $57 million for expanding nursing and mental health workforce
To review the House and Senate 2024-2025 Biennium budgets, please visit the following: