Texas Governor Touts Economy, Outlines Priorities During State of the State Address

State and local government public pensions weren't among Gov. Greg Abbot's State of the State address on Feb. 16; however, he did discuss the importance of the public education system in Texas, touted previous increases to teacher pay, and said the current legislative session could do even more for the educational system and teachers. 

A State of the State address is an annual speech given by a governor to a joint session of the state legislature. This address typically outlines the governor's accomplishments over the past year, their proposed budget, and legislative agenda for the upcoming year and reflects on the state's current state of affairs.

Abbott took the opportunity to tout the state's economy. This year, Abbott gave his address from Noveon Magnetics, a mining company in San Marcos. The company's factory produces up to 2,000 metric tons of magnetic material annually, used in refrigerators, trucks, MRI machines, oil rigs, and ballistic materials. Abbott said facilities like Noveon make the state less dependent on China during supply-chain disruptions for rare earth materials. 

"We must embrace innovation like Noveon to make Texas more self-reliant to create our own products and to secure the Texas of tomorrow," Abbot said.

Texas has more jobs than before the pandemic hit and continues to outpace the rest of the nation. Abbott is in his third term after recently being re-elected in November. He said that since he became governor, the state has added more than 1.9 million new jobs.

"We're also number one for economic development, number one for exports, and number one for Fortune 500 headquarters," he said during his 30-minute speech. "Our $2 trillion economy makes Texas the ninth-largest economy in the world." 

Abbott says to continue economic growth; he hopes to see new economic development tools this legislative session. 

"Texas is America's economic juggernaut: Where a small family business can aspire to employ hundreds and become leaders in their local community; where all Texans can chart their own destiny," he said.

During Abbott's address, he announced seven "emergency items," which means lawmakers can take up the issues during the first 60 days of the 88th legislative session. 

Those items are: 

  • Cutting Property Taxes "We have all proposed using $15 billion to cut property taxes. Now we must ensure that it provides lasting property tax relief. To get that done, cutting property taxes will be an emergency item this session."
  • Ending COVID Restrictions "We must prohibit any government from imposing COVID mask mandates, COVID vaccine mandates, and from closing any business or school because of COVID. Also, we must change how government responds to future pandemics, including requiring the legislature to convene if another pandemic is ever declared."
  • School Choice "Parents also deserve education freedom. Without it, some parents are hindered in helping their child succeed. That must change this year. The way to do that is with school choice through state-funded Education Savings Accounts."
  • School Safety "We must establish the safest standards, and then use the newly created Chief of School Safety to mandate compliance with those standards, and we must provide more mental health professionals in our schools."
  • Revolving Bail "We must shut and lock that revolving door by passing laws that keep dangerous criminals behind bars and hold accountable the judges who let them out."
  • Border Security "We must impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 10 years for anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants in Texas."
  • Fentanyl Crisis "We must call fentanyl deaths what they are — poisonings — and prosecute them as murders. We must also increase the supply of lifesaving NARCAN, so we can save more Texans who are ambushed by fentanyl."

In closing his state of the State address, Abbott said the 88th Legislative Session will ensure Texas remains the leader of the U.S. as an "unflinching force in this world."

"Together, we will build a Texas for the next generation - the Texas of tomorrow," he said. 

For more in-depth coverage:

Note: TEXPERS, along with the Association's Legislative Committee and government affairs consultant, is monitoring the session, especially for any actions regarding public employee pensions. Check back for regular updates.


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