The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Governor George W. Bush pledged his dedication to limited government, education and tax cuts in today's State of the State Address. The leaders of the Legislature that can make his agenda into law, Lt. Governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the Texas House Pete Laney, were at his side as Bush announced his plans for the future of Texas. Bush says these priorities are evident in the budget he plans to submit tomorrow.
A joint session of the Legislature convened in the House Chamber for the State of the State Address this morning at 11:00 a.m. The Senate Escort Committee, including Senator Ken Armbrister of Victoria, Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Senator Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Senator Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, and Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson, led the Governor in to a standing ovation.
Bush discussed his priorities for this session, including some legislation referred yesterday. Legislation holding the future of issues like social promotion and parental notification have already been sent to committee.
Bush praised the legislative efforts of senators that coincided with his interests, including electric utility deregulation, school vouchers, and religious freedom.
The Senate Democratic Caucus, chaired by Senator Gonzalo Barrientos of Travis, supports the Governor's focus on education, with the exception of school vouchers. Democratic members agree that issues like health care, teacher pay, and transportation are a higher priority than tax cuts.
"If you can't get to work in Houston, Texas because the freeway is inoperable, if you can't keep competent school teachers because you can't adequately pay them, a tax relief of $150.00 per household doesn't mean anything," said Houston Senator John Whitmire.
Bush is proposing tax cuts for small businesses, research and development, and property taxes. Senator Mario Gallegos Jr. of Galena Park worries the Governor's property tax cut plan will not benefit many of his constituents who are renters. There is also speculation among senators that providing funding for education and other basic needs won't leave much for tax cuts in any form. Perry believes it can happen and is ready to work with the Legislature towards that goal.
"I'm going to be sending a clear message to the people of the State of Texas, to the senators that indeed I think its possible to have a substantial tax relief for the people of the State of Texas," Perry stated.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m.
1/28/99, Thursday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
2/01/99, Monday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
2/01/99, Monday - Special Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring Public Hearing at 2:00 p.m. or 30 minutes upon adjournment in the Senate Chamber