Every legislative session has its own character and the 86th Legislative Session was no different. It started with the election of a new Speaker of the House, Dennis Bonnen (Angleton, TX), who replaced the 10-year veteran Speaker Joe Straus. With the new Speaker came not only a new leadership structure in the House, but also a sense of harmony among Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Bonnen.
The session was notable for the image of unity leadership projected. From the outset, leadership identified four major priority issues:
- State Budget;
- Property Tax Relief and Reform;
- School Finance Reform; and
- Hurricane Harvey Recovery and Disaster Mitigation.
Your Chamber tracked 119 bills impacting issues important to Chamber members, many of which turned into big wins for San Antonio. The most notable was a massive overhaul of Texas’ school finance system. The $11.6 billion school finance measure includes about $6.5 billion in new public education spending, plus about $5.1 billion devoted to lowering Texans’ property tax bills. The spending will increase per-student base funding by about 20%. It includes money to give teachers raises, fund free full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds, and reduce the amount of money wealthy districts must spend to subsidize poor districts through the state’s recapture program, known as “Robin Hood.”
Other big wins included increased funding to our higher academic institutions; reauthorization of Chapter 312, the valuable economic development tool to recruit and expand new businesses’ and more funding for transportation and military initiatives. To learn more, check out our Post-Legislative Report.