When Texas lawmakers come back to Austin in January, there willbe a new governor who touts public schools as a top priority, and plenty of money in the state bank account. But that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly as the 84th Legislature navigates public education policy.
Here are five things to watch whenthe legislative session gets underway:
Texas regulators say they put little stock in recent research suggesting that poorly drilled gas wells are allowing methane to seep into a North Texas aquifer, and will not re-examine the high-profile contamination case.
“There are no plans to reopen the investigation,” Ramona Nye, spokeswoman for the Railroad Commission of Texas, said Friday.
The state’s savings account should hold at least $7 billion for the next three years to maintain the state’s high credit ratings and ensure the state is ready for an unforeseen emergency, a group of lawmakers decided Thursday morning.
With the next legislative session a month away, lawmakers are preparing to move forward with a planned consolidation of the state’s five health agencies into a single commission.
Members of the Sunset Advisory Commission, a panel that includes lawmakers and makes periodic reviews of state agencies and programs, unanimously approved on Wednesday a recommendation to combine the massive Health and Human Services Commission and the four smaller agencies it oversees.
During a Capitol news conference in which he announced the selection of his senior staff, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott said Monday that education will be his top policy priority.
Abbott said he wants to improve the educational foundation that students receive in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. "I want to ensure that all children finish the third grade reading and doing math at or above grade level," he said.
The elections are over. Campaign fundraising is not.
If anything, it is surging.
State officeholders — the re-elected and the newly elected — are raising money before a Dec. 13 deadline that prohibits them from accepting political contributions until June 22, a period that includes the regular legislative session every other year and a three-week veto period that follows it.
*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
If he opts to run for president again, Gov. Rick Perry wants to ensure that his entry into the field bears little resemblance to 2011, when he jumped into the Republican presidential primaries with little preparation or forethought.
He is entertaining potential donors and backers at the Governor's Mansion this week, and planning long meetings with policy experts over the next few weeks.
Texas should pursue a waiver from the federal government for more flexibility to administer Medicaid, heighten the "visibility" of the state's mental health programs to "ensure adequate leadership and accountability" and consolidate its three major women's health programs, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services said Monday.
Toll Road opponents rallied in Greenville on October 14th. Proposition 1 authorized the use of additional funds for transportation projects. Supporters of the measure drew on increasing public opposition to toll roads.
Eighty percent of Texas voters approved a measure this month to increase transportation funding without raising taxes or fees. Proposition 1 is expected to add billions to the state highway fund by dedicating some of the tax revenue being collected from the oil boom to road construction and maintenance.
The first payment, an estimated $1.7 billion, is likely to be deposited in the state highway fund in December.
The Legislative Budget Board voted unanimously Monday to set the state’s growth rate at 11.68 percent for its next two-year budget, about 1 percent higher than the spending cap for the current budget.
The decision comes as state officials expect to enter the next legislative session in January with a multibillion-dollar surplus and competing factions are pushing to ramp spending growth both down and up.