Things were busy in Austin this year as state legislators considered more than 7,000 bills, of which more than 1,000 were passed into law.
Texas District 1 Senator Bryan Hughes addressed Kilgore Rotary Club Wednesday, Oct. 9, with a recap of some of the most impactful legislation passed during this year’s session.
Hughes characterized the session as productive, thanks in part to legislators coming together on items they wanted to accomplish.
“This time, going in, we had some agreement on the priorities. It’s not always that way. It’s a bunch of politicians down there. People have different agendas and, of course, we’re from different parts of the state. What folks up here want is not always what folks in Dallas want or in the Rio Grande Valley or in Lubbock,” Hughes said.
Hughes cited three priorities legislators focused on in the session: pay for public school teachers, property taxes and school funding.
Many of these issues were addressed by House Bill 3, an historic school funding bill which saw the state sending millions of dollars to school districts to bolster teacher pay rates while cutting local property taxes.
“Every study that they’ve done for decades now, when we think about student success, there are two drivers to student success. One of those is involved parents and the other is great teachers. There’s not a whole lot the state can do about involved parents. We can do something though about great teachers. We can encourage them, retain them, help to recruit them, and in teacher pay, Texas had been falling behind,” Hughes said.
The senator also addressed the issue of property taxes.
“The property tax is not a good tax. About the only thing worse than the property tax is the income tax,” Hughes said, encouraging voters to support Proposition 4 with their votes in November to ban a state income tax.
Hughes pointed to the state’s rollback rate rule, which mandates city governments must poll their citizens for a vote if property taxes are to be increased by more than a predetermined limit. He said the state’s actions during the legislative session are intended to shield homeowners from excessive taxation.
“If the growth needs to be more than 2.5 percent, the state will fund that and not local property taxes.”
About $5 billion of taxpayer money was sent to school districts throughout Texas, Hughes said, with the aim of reducing the tax burden on residents.
“Most Texans are going to save a couple hundred dollars on their tax bill this year and, again, this new rollback rate should keep those from growing,” Hughes said.