Yesterday Governor Greg Abbott delivered the 2019 State of the State Address. Like the convening of the Texas legislature, the State of the State Address is a bi-annual affair. The governor traditionally delivers the speech near the beginning of the legislative session to laud the accomplishments of his administration, to promote his political and legislative priorities, and perhaps most importantly, to declare certain “emergency items.”
Labeling particular objectives as emergency items
Yesterday Abbott announced six emergency items – school finance reform, increased teacher pay, property tax reform, disaster relief, mental health, and school safety.
Abbott also trumpeted several other issues he would like to see addressed this session without elevating them to “emergency item” status. These included border security, anti-gang centers, anti-human trafficking efforts, eliminating the backlog of forensic rape kits, and increasing services for veterans.
In contrast to Abbott’s last two State of the State Addresses (2015 and 2017), yesterday’s address was remarkably more moderate and conciliatory towards Democrats. Several items were notably missing from Abbott’s agenda. Unlike his previous two addresses, Abbott did not mention government ethics reform or increased government transparency. He also omitted efforts to ensure election integrity, perhaps because his Secretary of State, David Whitley, has come under withering attack — including three lawsuits — in recent weeks over his announcement of 100,000 illegal names on Texas’s voter rolls. Likewise, there was no mention of classic conservative issues such as abortion restrictions, school choice, or any actual tax reduction. His property tax proposal limits the rate of property tax increases without voter approval but does not actually reduce the taxes paid by any Texan.
Whatever the motivation, Abbott seems to understand that Republicans will need some significant accomplishments to show voters in 2020 if they want to stem the rising tide of Texas Democrats.
Throughout the 86th Legislative Session, Transparency Texas will be keeping track of these issues, along with many others, outlining the players and how their motivations, financial and otherwise, might be influencing their decisions. Join us here to get the latest analysis delivered straight to your inbox.