HOUSTON - This session of the Texas Legislature was much more productive than the last, which was characterized by partisan bickering.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and KPRC2 reporter Phil Archer sat down and talked about the big-ticket items that lawmakers were able to agree on this time around.
Here's a look at how that conversation went.
"The thing that people have been sharing with me over all these years, Phil, is, 'I can’t afford my property taxes doubling every six or seven years.' Now, they’re going to take over 20 years to double," Patrick said. "So now, (people are) going to be able to afford the home they buy and stay in their business property, because it’s affected businesses too."
"We’re beginning the Ike Dike that we’ve heard about so long, to build that coastal barrier. Now, that’s going to take 20 to 25 years for the Army Corps (of Engineers) and federal government and the state to build that out, but we’re putting down the first $200 million. That’s going to draw down several billions of federal money to begin that process. Secondly, we pulled $3.2 billion out of the Rainy Day Fund for Hurricane Harvey projects," Patrick said.
“We are putting $4.5 billion into our school formulas and $2 billion in addition to that into our teachers. So, every teacher with six years of experience or more is going to get, on average, a $4,200 raise," Patrick said. "On the formula funding side, we’re funding all-day pre-K. We’re funding more focus on third-grade reading. If you can’t read by the third grade, you’re pretty much not going to be successful in school today. Only 4 out of 10 students are at that grade level. We’re adding a month of school in July for schools that want to do it, students who want to do it, for kids who need it."
"Smoking age is increased to 21. It will save lives and billions in health care costs," Patrick said. "Data showed that, if you wait until you're in your 20s to start smoking, you're less likely to pick it up as a habit."
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