AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared school safety an “emergency” issue of his second term Tuesday following one of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings last year near Houston, but the Republican put no dollar amount on the table for schools.
During his State of the State address he called for giving students better access to mental health care, but Democrats said they were uncertain about the rest after the governor gave school safety preferential status that allows legislation to be fast-tracked.
The Texas Legislature in session for the first time since a student gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in May 2019, killing 10 people . The attack came just three months after 17 people were killed at a high school in Florida, which responded by passing a $400 million school safety bill and raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21.
But any school safety package in Texas is all but certain to include no new firearm restrictions.
Governor Abbott also told state lawmakers Texas must boost student achievement, and to accomplish that, the state needs to give teachers a big raise.
It’s all part of a plan to use more state funding to pay for schools instead of relying mostly on property taxes and taking money back from wealthy school districts.
“Texas will be making new investments in education and investments in reducing the burden of Robin Hood in our state,” he said.
In response, Texas Democrats said the state needs a reliable funding source to pay for its schools.
State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas, said, “We want to make certain we don’t commit the same mistakes we committed in the past.”)
The Governor also wants lawmakers to limit property tax hikes.
He wants to require a vote by residents before local governments could increase property tax revenues by more than two and a half percent from the year before.
“If we are going to keep Texas the economic engine of America, we must rein in a property tax system that punishes families and businesses and prevents younger Texans from achieving their dream of home ownership,” Abbott said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)