During the 86th Legislative Session, the Partnership will provide a weekly update on our top executive priorities and other newsworthy items from Austin.
This was the first full week when both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee held hearings related to the budgets of state agencies. Specific to the Partnership’s priorities, the Legislative Budget Board, Texas General Land Office, Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Education Agency all testified before both committees to discuss current budget proposals and answer legislators' questions about their operations.
Property tax reform also drove activity in Austin this week. Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) filed identical property tax reform bills on Thursday, and Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen held a joint press conference alongside both bill authors to emphasize their shared commitment to property tax reforms.
Next week, Governor Abbott will deliver his State of the State address before the Legislature, where he will announce his emergency items for the 86th Legislative Session. Legislators will have the opportunity then to immediately take up bills on the emergency issues.
PARTNERSHIP EXECUTIVE PRIORITIES
The House Public Education Committee, chaired by Representative Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), met for the first time on Wednesday. Chairman Huberty summarized the recommendations presented to the Legislature by the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. Chairman Huberty, who served as a member of the Commission, was optimistic about the opportunity the committee has to make significant changes to the school finance system for the first time since 1993.
The Committee heard testimony from the Texas Education Agency, including Education Commissioner Mike Morath. Testimony began with a broad overview of student performance from Pre-K – 12th grade. The Commissioner specifically mentioned college and career readiness and showed legislators that only one in four high school graduates earn a post-secondary credential within six years of graduation, an outcome that he said is not improving fast enough. Finally, the Commissioner provided a broad overview of the agency’s budget and financial requests related to school districts impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
The House Public Education Committee will meet next week to critically examine the school finance system. They will hear from several members of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance regarding the final 35 recommendations that were presented to the Legislature for consideration late last year. The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), has not yet scheduled its first meeting.
Members of the House and Senate are clearly focused on post-Harvey flood related issues, and the Partnership has established a leadership role in disseminating information and data to key legislative offices and agencies. The Partnership is urging the Legislature to consider the following approach related to future flood mitigation:
WEEK IN REVIEW
While the Partnership continues to focus on our executive priorities, we are also closely following a number of other issues important to the Houston business community: