State of the State

Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his “State of the State” speech, highlighting his priorities for the remainder of this legislative session.

As predicted, he spent time talking about the need for public school finance reform, naming this and teacher pay as emergency items.

I agree with him that both need to be addressed immediately and I look forward to learning more about his proposals, because as we all know, the devil is in the details. We need a real fix that puts more money into our classrooms and gives teachers the tools they need to succeed.

As expected, the governor named property tax reform as an emergency item. I agree. Property taxes are too high – but it’s because the state relies on rising property values to shirk its responsibility on public education funding.  School finance reform that mandates the state pay more of the share of public education is the best way to reduce property taxes, not an arbitrary revenue cap that will make it more difficult for Arlington, Grand Prairie and other communities to pay for public safety and other priorities.

As I pointed out in the Democratic Response to the State of the State Address, the Governor’s speech was notable for a key omission.

Governor Abbott failed to mention anything about the fact Texas still leads the nation in the number of and rate of uninsured.  Nearly 5 million Texans are uninsured – that is unacceptable, and it holds our state back and hurts all of us.

We need to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  That would insure more than a million Texans immediately and provide much-needed funding for health care services. 

My Democratic colleagues and I will be working this session to address these and other priorities facing the people of Texas.  I hope the Governor will join us in working for real solutions to these challenges.