“The state of our state has never been more exceptional.”
With this claim, amid multiple critical issues threatening Texans, Gov. Greg Abbott opened his biennial State of the State address on Thursday evening.
Although the address has traditionally been delivered during a joint session of the Texas House and Senate in the middle of the day, Abbott is taking this year’s address in a different direction. Instead, he gave the address from the Noveon Magnetics Corp. manufacturing facility near San Marcos.
During the speech, Abbott issued seven emergency items for the state Legislature to address this session:
- Cutting Property Taxes
- End COVID Restrictions
- Education Freedom (School Choice)
- School Safety
- Ending Revolving-door Bail
- Doing More to Secure the Border
- Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis
“Property taxes are suffocating Texans,” said Abbott, proposing using $15 billion (only half) of the budget surplus for property tax cuts this legislative session. The governor also stressed the need for lasting property tax relief, but he outlined no plan to deliver that this session and beyond.
The governor’s next emergency item includes prohibiting “any government from imposing COVID mask mandates, COVID vaccine mandates, and from closing any business or school because of COVID.” Abbott recommended a requirement that the Legislature convene if another pandemic is ever declared.
Abbott then pivoted to education.
“Many children today are not being educated like you and I were,” he said. “Our schools are for education, not indoctrination. … Schools should not be pushing a woke agenda period.”
Rather, Abbott insisted that the current education curriculum be reformed:
Get kids back to the basics of learning; and we must empower parents.
As part of his empowerment plan, Abbott made school choice through Education Savings Accounts an emergency priority for the Legislature. He also insisted there is a need for parental access to public school libraries and curriculum.
As for school safety, he recommended more healthcare professionals in public schools.
Abbott, who was the state attorney general before being elected governor, then targeted the rather infamous Harris County. The Democrat-controlled county government has been making headlines due to crime and election integrity issues.
“Harris County’s revolving bail practice is literally killing people,” said Abbott, referring to the exorbitant amount of crime in the Houston area and listing “ending revolving door bail” as another emergency priority. Abbott also said holding judges accountable who let dangerous criminals free will be a focus this legislative session.
After referencing the border crisis created by the Biden administration, Abbott touted the work of Texas through Operation Lone Star and made border security an emergency priority. He highlighted several areas of needed reform:
- “We must impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 10 years for anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants in the United States or here in Texas.”
- “We must call fentanyl deaths what they are—poisonings—and prosecute them as murderers.”
- “We must also increase the supply of life-saving Narcan,” for fentanyl overdoses.
Also discussed by Abbott—but not given emergency status—were threats from communist China, legislation for transportation infrastructure, and electric grid security.
Additionally, Abbott referenced the issue of gun violence by criminals and said he is seeking a “mandatory minimum sentence for criminals who illegally possess guns of 10 years behind bars.”
The Legislature is prohibited from passing legislation during the first 60 days of the session. An exception is made, however, for the governor’s emergency items. March 10 will be the 60th day of session.
The Texas Senate is slated to reconvene on Friday, February 17, at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, the House is not slated to meet again until Tuesday, February 21, at 2 p.m.