Abbott Speech, Lt. Gov. Priorities Foretell Chances Of School Choice, Tax Reform

After tonight’s State of the State address and a release of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick‘s priorities earlier this week, Texans have a clearer picture of how the 88th Legislature may turn out.

Speaking from a manufacturing facility in San Marcos, just south of the capital city of Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott hailed the current condition of Texas as “exceptional” — much as how a president would in a State of the Union. In the biennial address, Abbott highlighted several of his emergency items for the current Texas legislative session. By naming them as such, this means bills addressing those subjects may be taken up in committee and voted on during the first 60 days when no other legislation may come out of the state’s two ruling chambers.

First, a rundown of Abbott’s State of the State speech, and then Patrick’s priorities. Take note of the commonalities to see which items stand a good chance of speeding through, assuming they pass the muster of House Speaker Dade Phelan and the lower chamber.


For nearly 200 years people have came to Texas for liberty, a confident Abbott crowed, prior to addressing the following issues.

Manufacturing: The Governor called for greatly reducing dependence on China via increased manufacturing of specific technologies.

COVID-19: Noting an emergency item to end mandates (currently Abbott has maintained his executive orders and emergency powers declaration — he said as a check on other governmental entities) Abbott said the time has come to allow Texans the choice whether or not to wear a mask or take other actions.

Public Ed: Abbott said K-12 education is very much funded in Texas “but many children today are not being educated like you and I were.” Abbott said schools are for education not “woke” indoctrination. As hinted in previous meetings, Abbott said he intends to “empower parents” through school choice via state-funded education accounts, expanded to every parent (one legislative suggestion has been to bracket the school choice bill to exclude rural schools). The education accounts were named an emergency item, will be strengthening security measures on school campuses.

The elderly: A very brief mention was made of increasing pay for senior nursing home workers.

Guns: Abbott called for a 10-year minimum sentence for those involved in gun-related crimes.

Border reform: Abbott slammed Joe Biden’s administration’s policies which he said has led to record numbers of illegal border crossings. Abbott recalled his own record on responding to the border crisis, including 24,000 arrests, busing illegal immigrants to sanctuary states and cities, designating illegal immigration as terrorism, continuing construction of the border wall, and the hiring of Mike Banks as the state’s “first border czar.” The Governor had high praise for state troopers and sheriffs. He said $4.6 billion is being proposed by the legislature to address immigration, as well as an emergency item to require a minimum of 10 years in prison for smuggling illegal immigrants.

Judicial reform: An emergency was named to ban the practice of “revolving bail,” building on reforms from last session. On this item, Abbott decried the influence of “activist judges” letting violent criminals back on the streets.

Drug abuse: In regard to the Fentanyl crisis, Abbott hosted a guest who lost a daughter to pill laced with the drug. Mexican cartels make Fentanyl “look like prescriptions, candy,” he said. Abbott named Fentanyl deaths an emergency item and called for Fentanyl death to be called “poisonings” and to prosecute them as murders. Abbott also called for an increase in the state’s supply of Narcan, a drug which can reverse a Fentanyl poisoning.

Energy and Economy: Abbott hailed the integrity of the state’s electric grid and called the Lone Star State “the energy capitol of the world.” Drawing on the theme of the speech, “The Texas of Tomorrow,” Abbott called Texas an “economic juggernaut.”

Property Taxes: “As I travel across Texas, there’s one thing I hear loud and clear: Property taxes are suffocating Texans,” Abbott said. “We must fix that this session.” In a related press release, Abbott suggested lowering school district M&O (maintenance and operations) tax rates by increasing what’s known as the “tax rate compression,” increasing the business personal property tax exemption, requiring local government debt be passed by a two-thirds supermajority of the local governing body, and assuring that local bond issues not included on the November ballot be passed by a two-thirds supermajority of voters. And on that note …


Budget surplus: On the historic $33 billion surplus (larger than the budgets of some states), Abbott said “hardworking Texans produced the largest budget surplus in Texas history. That money belongs to the taxpayers. We should return it to you with the largest property tax cut in the history of Texas.” He called for $15 billion to be used for property taxes, as previously mentioned, an emergency item.

Transportation: Though not specific on what exactly, Abbott said “our booming economy and growing population means we must bolster our infrastructure. We began preparing for this over the past decade. Tonight, I’m proud to tell you we will soon announce a $100 billion plan to build transportation infrastructure in Texas.”

Read the whole speech here.


The LiteGuv basically is the Senate calendar committee, so he can assign bill numbers. Lower numbers typically indicate priorities for Senate leadership. Here they are:

Senate Bill 1 – State Budget
Senate Bill 2 – Restoring Voter Fraud to a Felony
Senate Bill 3 – Increasing the Homestead Exemption to $70,000
Senate Bill 4 – Adding Additional Property Tax Relief
Senate Bill 5 – Increasing the Business Personal Property Tax Exemption
Senate Bill 6 – Adding New Natural Gas Plants
Senate Bill 7 – Continuing to Improve the Texas Grid
Senate Bill 8 – Empowering Parental Rights – Including School Choice
Senate Bill 9 – Empowering Teacher Rights ­­– Teacher Pay Raise
Senate Bill 10 – Adding 13th Checks for Retired Teachers
Senate Bill 11 – Keeping Our Schools Safe and Secure
Senate Bill 12 – Banning Children’s Exposure to Drag Shows
Senate Bill 13 – Protecting Children from Obscene Books in Libraries
Senate Bill 14 – Ending Child Gender Modification
Senate Bill 15 – Protecting Women’s College Sports
Senate Bill 16 – Banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Higher Education
Senate Bill 17 – Banning Discriminatory “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) Policies in Higher Education
Senate Bill 18 – Eliminating Tenure at General Academic Institutions
Senate Bill 19 – Creating A New Higher Education Endowment Fund
Senate Bill 20 – Removing District Attorneys Who Refuse to Follow Texas Law
Senate Bill 21 – Removing Judges Who Refuse to Follow Texas Law
Senate Bill 22 – Assisting Rural Law Enforcement Funding – Increasing Pay and Needed Equipment
Senate Bill 23 – Creating A Mandatory 10-Year Prison Sentence for Criminals Committing Gun Crime
Senate Bill 24 – Expanding Alternatives to Abortion
Senate Bill 25 – Creating New Scholarships for Registered Nurses
Senate Bill 26 – Expanding Mental Health Care Beds Across Texas – Focus on Rural Counties
Senate Bill 27 – Creating A New Business Specialty Court
Senate Bill 28 – Addressing Texas’ Future Water Needs
Senate Bill 29 – Banning Local COVID-19 Mandates
Senate Bill 30 – Supplemental Budget

The text of each bill may be looked up here.

“I believe Texans support our priorities because they largely reflect the policies supported by the conservative majority of Texans,” Patrick said in a press release. “Most will pass with bipartisan support.”


While Speaker Phelan has been silent about his preferred bills this session as Speakers are wont to be, a savvy observer can discern a legislative agenda first by weeding through the interim charges from the previous year. Interim charges are items of business the Speaker tasks House committees with discussing — some technical and specific tweaks to government, while others are more general in nature. Other chargers are leftover and follow-up items from previous legislatures.

For other hints on what issues have captured the Speaker’s heart (and which have not), check various media sources that cover Texas politics. Here’s an interesting clip from newspaper wire service CNHI. The Hayride noted Phelan’s committee assignments which also may indicate his priorities (hint: school choice is going to be a battle in the House this year). The Legislative Reference Library of Texas maintains a helpful clip service that you pay for, so go ahead and use it.

As for the rest, like they say about Texas’s notoriously fickle weather patterns, “just wait.”



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