Lt. Gov. Says COLA Adjustment and Pay Raise for Teachers Are Necessary

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said teacher pay needs to increase, a cost-of-living adjustment is necessary, and if there is money to write a 13th check, he will support it. He made the statements during a press conference on Nov. 30, during which he laid out his 21 priorities for the 2023 legislative session, which begins Jan. 10.

He called the upcoming 88th legislative session an "extraordinary opportunity" to shape Texas' future. Patrick, who presides over the Senate, outlined how the state will spend a $27 billion budget surplus.

Patrick also wants to create a rural law enforcement fund, supports a proposed plan to raise salaries, and suggests the state could maintain a fund with $500,000 to $1 million yearly for the smallest counties.

His top priorities include property tax relief, improving the electric grid's reliability, and security at border crossings.

Homestead exemptions are at the top of his list for property tax relief. Despite a constitutional spending cap set earlier in the day by the Legislative Budget Board, Patrick believes a proposed Senate bill could allow lawmakers to add money from the rainy-day fund on property tax relief.

Due to the absence of an income tax and the primary role of property taxes in funding public schools, Texans pay among the highest property taxes in the nation.

Patrick wants to raise the exemption to approximately $65,000 during the legislative session, but it will be up to state lawmakers to hammer it out. A $40,000 tax exemption is currently available to homeowners.

To avoid another power grid crisis, such as the February 2021 winter storm that caused blackouts across the state resulting in hundreds of deaths, Patrick wants lawmakers to pass legislation encouraging investors to build more natural gas plants.

Patrick said lawmakers need to continue Gov. Greg Abbott's plan for border funding built into the base budget.

Patrick said the goal is to spend only some of the excess funds.

In a meeting earlier in the day, the Legislative Budget Board set the spending limit for the upcoming biennium at $114.1 billion in general revenue. The board set the rate at 12.33%.

In the 88th legislative session, the rate will be applied to the $101.5 billion general revenue base amount (subject to adjustments), limiting certain appropriations to $114.1 billion. Furthermore, this estimate provides $5.1 billion in spending authority for supplemental appropriations, up from the $3.6 billion estimated in July 2022.

Through the Biennial Revenue Estimate issued by the Texas comptroller, budget writers will also get a sense of how much general revenue the state will need in 2024-25. To exceed spending limits, a supermajority vote is required.


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