Skip to main content

86th Legislative Session Summary

Published Jun 20, 2019 by Taylor Landin

The 86th Texas Legislative Session was a success for the Partnership, the Houston business community and the broader Greater Houston region. This session was characterized by strong leadership from Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and first-term House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Their leadership focused the Legislature on addressing the most pressing needs facing Texas, which closely aligned with the Partnership’s priorities.

Through the efforts of the Partnership’s Board of Directors and our Public Policy Advisory Committees, we identified our top executive priorities based on the issues’ importance to Houston and the Partnership’s ability to make meaningful impact.

The Partnership focused on two initiatives critical to the advancement of the region’s economic competitiveness: improving the state’s flood resilience and supporting comprehensive public school finance reform. Thanks to consistent engagement from the Partnership, strong leadership from our statewide leaders and commitment from our regional delegation, we are proud to report success in each of our top priority areas.

FLOOD RESILIENCE - Senate Bill 7 Signed by Governor Abbott 

The passage of flood resilience legislation was a major accomplishment. The Partnership built a data-driven case for the state to fund Hurricane Harvey recovery and establish a role in future flood mitigation resulting in $2 billion in funding for both of these areas. Importantly, this legislation marks the first time the state will have a significant role in funding flood mitigation infrastructure.

In total, the Legislature appropriated $2 billion towards Hurricane Harvey recovery and future flood mitigation. The Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund received an appropriation of $638 million to cover unanticipated FEMA local matching requirements. $172 million will remain in the fund to make future appropriations or to implement an initial state flood plan. An appropriation of $47 million was made primarily to update flood risk maps throughout the state. 

In addition, the Texas Water Development Board received an appropriation of $793 million for future flood infrastructure projects. These funds will most likely flow through the Flood Infrastructure Fund following passage by voters of a constitutional amendment this November. The General Land Office was also appropriated $200 million for costs associated with infrastructure projects being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Soil and Water Conservation Board was appropriated $150 million for dam infrastructure projects throughout the state. 

This commitment of significant state funding will help local communities and make Texas more resilient.

PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE REFORM – House Bill 3 Signed by Governor Abbott

The Legislature passed the most consequential public school finance reform since 1993. House Bill 3, authored by House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) and sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), delivers transformational solutions, passed without a court order, and reflects the Partnership's principles for school finance reform:

  1. Prioritizing formula funding weights for economically-disadvantaged and English Language Learner students.
  2. Funding early education with an emphasis on programs that increase the reading proficiency of students by third grade.
  3. Increasing pay for the best teachers and incentivizing the best teachers to teach in the lowest performing schools.
  4. Equitably reducing the burden of recapture.
  5. Increasing the state’s share of education funding.

House Bill 3 dramatically reduces statewide recapture payments over the next biennium. Statewide recapture is reduced by $3.6 billion, a 47 percent reduction. Two school districts in our region, Houston ISD and Spring Branch ISD pay recapture. HB 3 is projected to reduce Spring Branch ISD’s recapture payment in 2020 from $96.9 million to $26.9 million. Houston ISD’s recapture payment in 2020 is projected to be reduced from $308.6 million to $0.

It is important to note that school district property tax reform is directly connected to the school finance reform efforts in House Bill 3. The legislation compresses local school district property taxes over a two-year period and establishes a school district revenue cap of 2.5 percent. These provisions help to reduce the challenge of funding public schools with local revenue, while increasing the state’s share of funding public education. 

This historic reform legislation increases the state’s share of funding public education from 38 percent to 45 percent and reduces the burdensome cost of recapture. Houston-area students will directly benefit from the funding allocated to proven programs directed at the highest need student populations so that students have an opportunity to graduate fully prepared to enter a twenty-first century workforce. 

The Partnership also engaged in workforce development policy at the state legislature for the first time, and this work will continue into the interim. Other issues important to the Houston business community – the preservation of state economic development programs, enhancement of higher education and creation of new mental health programs – were also approved with leadership from Houston-area legislators 

This was a tremendous session, and we thank the Board of Directors, Public Policy Advisory Committees, members, staff and stakeholders for your engagement prior-to and during session. For further details on outcomes of the 86th Legislative Session, click here. For more information on the Partnership’s public policy efforts, click here.  

Related News


Small Biz Insider: Advice for 2020 Graduates, Houston's Newest Entrepreneurs

Houston-area colleges and universities graduate more than 100,000 students each year. But 2020 is an especially challenging year for these new graduates, including those who aspire to start their own business venture. Houston faces a dual economic challenge stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil downturn. Together, these two factors have created an economic situation that’s quickly surpassed unemployment numbers from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.  Our guests on this episode are: Dr. Yolanda Norman is the Assistant Director of the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering Career Center and leads the UH Cooperative Education Program. She is also the founder and CEO of FirstGenCollege Consulting.   Dr. Hesam Panahi is Interim Executive Director of the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He's also a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Jones Graduate School of Business as well as a Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Houston. Here are some highlights from this episode:  Is now the best time to be an entrepreneur in Houston given the economic conditions? Yes and no. Dr. Panahi said on the one hand, there are a lot of new opportunities to innovate and new problems to solve. Plus, with so many furloughs and layoffs, there's a pool of very talented people available to pull into the startup ecosystem. But raising money for your venture will be tough. Dr. Panahi said many are putting whatever resources they have into their existing businesses and investments, so finding someone to write a check will be difficult.    Graduating without a job or venture opportunity? Take inventory of your skills and projects. Dr. Norman and Dr. Panahi said they've had several students who've either had their job offers rescinded or had new job start dates pushed back to next year. So what now? Dr. Norman said new graduates should consider the projects they've done, their capabilities and what they can bring to the table. Include that in your resume and cover letter. Tell others what value you can offer as an entrepreneur.    Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, whether you're planning to start your own business venture or not. "There are things entrepreneurs do that you can apply in your day-to-day routine," said Panahi. Entrepreneurs take on a ton of risk, not knowing what the outcome is going to be, and they try to mitigate that risk as much as possible but are flexible enough to quickly change direction if they need to. Even if you don't want to be an entrepreneur, get involved in entrepreneurship programs and you'll find bits and pieces that'll be useful to you.    Small Biz Insider is presented by:    Click here for more COVID-19 resources for small businesses. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.  The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community.  Subscribe to Small Biz Insider through these popular podcast players: Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts Listen on Spotify
Read More

Governor Abbott and Judge Hidalgo Issue New COVID-19 Orders

This morning, Governor Greg Abbott announced a change to certain elements of the Reopen Texas plan.  Per Governor Abbott’s order, effective at noon today, all bars and similar establishments must close. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out. Beginning Monday, June 29, restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50 percent of total listed indoor occupancy. Previously, restaurants were allowed to operate at 75 percent of capacity. Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions, and rafting and tubing businesses must close. The governor’s executive order can be found here.   In Harris County today, Judge Hidalgo announced a change in the COVID-19 threat level system, which advises county residents on the local level of transmission. Judge Hidalgo raised the threat level from Level 2, “significant and uncontrolled level of COVID-19”, to Level 1, meaning that “residents should minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs.” Judge Hidalgo also issued a Stay Home advisory, which encourages residents to remain at home whenever possible. These measures signal that the Houston region is at an inflection point, and we must join together to stop the spread. We believe that residents across the region should stay home as much as possible. This should include office workers who are back in the workplace but could effectively work from home. We encourage employers to strongly consider returning to a work-from-home model where it is practical. We also ask companies to remind their employees that their actions when out in public – away from the workplace – will likely determine whether the virus enters the workplace. Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces and washing hands are all key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus at this critical moment. Managing Positive COVID-19 Cases A reminder that if someone in the workplace does test positive, we have developed a protocols document that helps address the actions businesses should take to mitigate the risk to others. Get the latest information on Governor Abbott's order, industry best practices for reopening, and the Partnership's work safe principles here. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

Business Beyond Borders: International Exports with EXIM Bank

Business Beyond Borders hosts the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) for a discussion on international trade financing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers:  …

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners