AUSTIN (CBS 11 NEWS) – Texas lawmakers are feeling upbeat as they convened the 84th legislative session.
Republicans and Democratic lawmakers such as Senator Royce West of Dallas are talking tax cuts.
Senator West said, “Yes, to answer the question if they make sense and so what does that mean? It means whether we have sufficient resources in order to fund state government to take care of the priorities for the state of Texas.”
Republicans, such as new state senator Konni Burton of Fort Worth also want to ultimately eliminate the business margins tax. “We may have to phase it, but I’m definitely in favor of getting rid of it.”
Burton succeeds Democrat Wendy Davis, who unsuccessfully ran for Governor.
In 2013, Davis led an 11-hour filibuster against increased abortion restrictions – all while wearing pink sneakers.
During her first day of session, Burton made a statement of her own by wearing black cowboy boots that said “stand for life.”
Burton said, “It’s a new day in district 10. Life is our first right and I will defend it. So I wanted to send that message out to all the constituents in district ten and in Texas, that I will stand for life.”
Burton enters office as the state is flush with cash because of oil and gas production.
But now that oil prices have plummeted, it has raised the caution flag.
Republicans want to reform how school children are taught and how to pay for education.
But Democrats like Representative Roberto Alonzo of Dallas warn, the state must restore all of the cuts made to public schools four years ago and can’t ignore a judge who ruled school funding is in adequate. “The answer is yes, and if we don’t do it, the judge is going to tell us to do it.”
Republican State Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth though says, “What number would fully restore or give us the greatest education bang for our buck? We never get a definitive answer, so it can’t be just about money, but structural reforms about how we educate our children as well.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price is visiting lawmakers at the Capitol to press her case of boosting highway construction to relieve traffic.
“We are one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and transportation funding is always an issue for us.”
During the first day of session, the Governor-elect, Greg Abbott appeared in both the House and Senate. He didn’t address lawmakers. That will happen Tuesday, January 20 when he and Lt. Governor-elect Dan Patrick are sworn-in on the Capitol steps.
Out-going Governor Rick Perry will make a final address to state lawmakers Thursday afternoon.
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