The first week of the 86th session ended with a new budget estimate, a new Speaker and a no committee announcements:
86th Texas Legislature Biennial Revenue Estimate
According to the Comptroller’s “cautiously optimistic” revenue estimate, the 86th Legislature will have an estimated $119.12 billion available for general-purpose spending in the 2020-21 biennium, 8.1 percent more than the corresponding amount estimated for 2018-19. This figure represents the 2018-19 ending balance of $4.18 billion, plus 2020-21 tax revenue of $107.32 billion and 2020-21 non-tax receipts of $14.16 billion, less an estimated reserve of $6.34 billion from oil and natural gas taxes for future transfer to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and the State Highway Fund (SHF), and less an estimated reserve of $211 million for transfer to the Texas Tomorrow Fund.
Texas House names Dennis Bonnen new speaker on celebratory opening day
Bonnen’s unanimous election marks a new era of Texas House leadership for the first time in a decade. Meanwhile, the leader of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was conspicuously absent on opening day.
The new speaker pledged to keep the Texas Legislature from getting “caught up in things that don’t lead to real results.” He named public school funding as his top priority, in addition to school safety, combating human trafficking and reforming property tax collection. He even went so far as to replace the drinking cups in the House members’ lounge with new ones reading, “School finance reform: The time is now.
Despite rumors, Lt. Gov. Patrick says he is not leaving his post
At two separate public events on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pushed back on rumors that he might be leaving his post to accept a position in the Trump Administration.
During a morning press conference alongside Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen at the Governor’s Mansion, Patrick was not asked about it but volunteered the information that he plans to stay in Austin.
There was an outbreak of rumors about Patrick’s future plans following his decision to be at the White House instead of the Texas Capitol on the opening day of the session.
The President visited the border
Some discussion was had that Texas might help pay for a border wall. As the government shutdown continues, the Administration floated the possibility of using disaster relief dollars earmarked for Texas and Puerto Rico to build the border wall by declaring a national emergency and bypassing Congressional approval. On Friday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said he and members of the state’s delegation will oppose redirecting the use of any Hurricane Harvey disaster funds to build a Mexican border wall.
The controversial Confederate plaque at the Texas Capitol will be removed. The State Preservation Board voted today to take it down.
No committee assignments this week
There were expectations that the Senate committee assignments would happen by Friday, but as of 5p.m. they had not been announced, so perhaps next week. House members’ requests for committee assignments are due in to the Speaker by January 15th, so it would seem that committee assignments in the House would not be made until sometime later in the month.
NEXT WEEK-the Governor and Lt. Governor inaugurations on Tuesday.
AND-this opinion piece in the Dallas News gives some great reasons why local control is still needed for cities:
Opinion: If the Texas Legislature won’t help solve Dallas’ problems, it should at least get out of the way, writes Mitchell Schnurman.