TEXAS (KXAN) — In Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s State of the State address Thursday evening, he laid out his legislative framework for the 2023 Texas Legislature, including the announcement of seven “emergency items” added to the legislative session.
Here’s a breakdown of five key takeaways from his 2023 address.
Strengthening Texas’ economy is critical for continued growth
Abbott touted the state’s $2 trillion economy as one of several indicators of the state’s economic prosperity. His speech, delivered at the Noveon Magnetics manufacturing facility in San Marcos, began with a focus on lessening Texas and the U.S.’ dependency on overseas production of essential goods.
He called for a self-reliance on Texas-made products, which would require continued investment in a highly skilled workforce and job skills programs to create a stronger pipeline for high-paying jobs.
“We must embrace innovation, like Noveon, to make Texas more self-reliant, to secure our own products and to secure the Texas of tomorrow,” he said.
School safety, parents’ choice high on priority list
Two of Abbott’s seven emergency items added to this legislative session centered around education- school safety and school choice.
On the school safety front, he highlighted the May 2022 Robb Elementary mass shooting as testament that Texas schools need to be upgraded to prevent future tragedies.
Abbott called for the establishment of the safest standards in school facilities, as well as a means of mandating compliance with those standards. He also called for an increase in healthcare professionals on school campuses.
“We cannot let another school year go by without making our schools safer,” he said.
On school choice, he called for increased funding to state-funded education savings accounts. Those would allot parents the ability to choose education options for their children.
He also advocated for continued analysis and policymaking to prevent alleged “woke agendas” in school districts, saying parents have the right to a say in their children’s educational learning experiences.
Need for property tax relief
With Texas recording its largest budget surplus in state history, Abbott proposed using $15 billion from that surplus pool to cut down on property Texas. He included that initiative as one of his seven emergency priorities for this legislative session.
“As I travel across Texas, one thing I hear loud and clear: Property taxes are suffocating Texans,” he said. “Hard-working Texans produced the largest budget surplus in Texas history — that money belongs to the taxpayers.”
Fentanyl crisis, border security listed as emergency priorities
As the fentanyl crisis continues to plague Texas communities, Abbott linked the synthetic opioid drug with expanded efforts he is calling for at the border.
Abbott advocated for $4.6 billion more in additional funds to support border security and patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border, linking fentanyl poisoning in Texas with drugs being smuggled in from Mexico.
He cited Texas’ One Pill Kills awareness campaign as one of the state’s response efforts, blaming Mexican drug cartels for their trafficking of the drug.
On migration issues in general, Abbott also proposed mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison for anyone caught smuggling illegal migrants.
Infrastructure upgrades top of mind
Alongside Texas’ rapid growth comes the need for infrastructure improvements, Abbott said. He teased an upcoming announcement on a $100 billion plan to build out Texas’ transportation infrastructure.
On the state’s power grid front, he highlighted 14 pieces of legislation already passed aimed at strengthening the power grid following the February 2021 winter storm, when millions of Texans went days without heat and power.
“Since then, no Texan has lost power because of the state grid,” he claimed. “But we all know that increased demand will be placed on the grid as Texas continues to grow. So we will build a grid strong enough to power Texas for the next century.”