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Coffers brimming with budget surplus

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Trent AshbyBy Rep. Trent Ashby
Representing District 9

At the beginning of the 88th Legislative Session, our state coffers were brimming with a budget surplus of nearly $33 billion. Fortunately, the Legislature put some of this money to good use. Through the budget-writing process, the Legislature appropriated money to bolster border security, strengthen the electric grid, expand mental health access, and improve our state’s road, water, and broadband infrastructure. And while I certainly support funding for these initiatives, I felt a sense of disappointment when the Legislature adjourned on Monday, May 29, because I felt that we had not adequately addressed two of our state’s most pressing issues – property tax relief and a pay raise for Texas teachers.

Upon adjourning Sine Die, I drafted a letter to Governor Abbott requesting that he call the Legislature back for a special session to pass legislation that would provide our dedicated educators with a well-deserved pay raise and deliver meaningful property tax relief to Texas taxpayers. Little did I know that a few hours later, Governor Abbott would issue a proclamation to notify the Legislature that the first called special session would begin at 9 p.m. that evening and that the agenda would include legislation related to property taxes and border security.

While I was disheartened that the first special session did not include a teacher pay raise, I was pleased that Governor Abbott shared my view that the Legislature had more work to do.

The next day, the Texas House went to work. In a matter of hours, the House had crafted and overwhelmingly passed several pieces of legislation to provide meaningful property tax relief and establish stronger penalties for criminals involved in human trafficking at our southern border.

The House’s property tax plan, HB 1, and HJR 1 provide Texans with the largest property tax cut in history. This legislation significantly compresses school district tax rates, while providing a historic $12.3 billion in state funds to buy down property taxes across the state. This proposal will provide savings to all property owners, including commercial property, rental property, and individuals who own their primary residence. To enhance border security operations, the House passed HB 2, which severely increases penalties for criminals involved in the operation of stash houses or human trafficking.

I’m proud of the Texas House for taking swift and decisive action to answer the Governor’s call for the first called special session. While I appreciate the Governor’s recognition that more work needs to be done, it is my hope that he will call another special session to address teacher pay. Until then, I remain committed to providing our dedicated educators with the pay raise they deserve, and I stand ready to return to Austin to begin working on this policy initiative at the Governor’s convenience.

With both the regular and the first called special session behind us, I’ll be adjusting our column schedule from every week to every other week in order to keep you updated on the latest from Austin and around the district.

The mobile office is on the road again and our District Director will look forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: June 7 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9-11 a.m.; June 14 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Court Room in Livingston from 9-11 a.m., or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; June 21 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m., or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.;

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at 936-634-2762 and our capitol office at 512-463-0508. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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