AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott laid out his priorities for the current legislative session during his annual State of the State address Tuesday in Austin.
The Republican, who is beginning his second term, said he wants bold things to be accomplished during the session, laying out several emergency items that lawmakers must consider.
According to the Texas Tribune, the emergency designation lifts the constitutional limits that prevent the Legislature from passing bills within the first 60 days of the session, and lets lawmakers take up the measures sooner.
Here’s a look at each of Abbott's priorities:
“Our mission begins with our students,” Abbott said.
The governor said teacher pay is among the top of his agenda, saying the state must do more to recruit and maintain the best teachers. He said wants a path for the best teachers to make a six-figure salary.
“We must pay our teachers more,” Abbott said.
School safety and mental health
Abbott said the safety of schools is also an emergency item, saying that students shouldn’t be afraid to go to school and parents shouldn’t be afraid to send them there.
The governor said mental health in schools is also among his top priorities and called on lawmakers to adopt a plan that would create a state mental health consortium aimed at recognizing and intervening before school violence happens.
Property tax reform is another priority for the governor. Abbott said he wants to reduce the burden of the state’s so-called Robin Hood law that requires wealthier districts to send money to poorer districts.
Reflecting on his trips to areas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, Abbott declared disaster preparedness another emergency item.
“No earthly force is more powerful than the human spirit,” Abbott said.
The governor said he wants to rebuild Texas is a way that is more resilient against future disasters and more nimble in responding to them.
While he did not declare it an emergency, Abbott said he wants also lawmakers to fully fund the border security program since the federal government has failed to meet its obligations.
Abbott also said he wants to create two more anti-gang centers in the state – one in Waco and another in Temple – aimed at cracking down on gang violence.
The governor also said he wants to create six squads to combat human trafficking across Texas. He also called for mandatory jail time for those responsible for the crime.
Abbott ended by calling on lawmakers to devote more resources to the mental health of veterans, saying a commission should be created to ensure they receive the benefits to which they are entitled.