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January 9, 2007 (512) 463-0300

SENATE KICKS OFF 80TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Lt. Governor comments on budget surplus

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Newly elected Senators take the Oath of Office at the front of the chamber

AUSTIN -- The Senate of the State of Texas began the 80th Legislative session with a ceremony before a packed chamber today in Austin. For the next 140 days, legislators will look at a variety of issues, from appraisal caps to college admissions procedures for state universities. Today, however, was about welcoming five new Senators and electing one of the longest serving as President Pro Tempore.

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Houston Senator Mario Gallegos is sworn in as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst

Houston Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr. was unanimously elected by his colleagues to serve as President Pro Tem for the 80th Regular Session. This puts him third in line for Governorship, and he will serve in that capacity whenever both the Governor and Lt. Governor are absent from the state. Many Senators rose to second Gallegos' nomination, praising him for his fearlessness, courage of conviction, and desire to aid Texans most in need. Gallegos, a former firefighter in his native Houston, said in his acceptance speech that the Senate must reach across party lines to pass important legislation for all Texans.
"Members I look forward to working with each and every one of you, this coming session of the Legislature, to bridge our differences and unite for a better tomorrow for all Texans," he said.

Following today's session, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst commented on Comptroller Susan Combs latest revenue estimate, which predicts an increase of more than $14 billion over last biennium. Of that amount, between $10-$12 billion must go to providing the property tax cuts passed by the Legislature in the last special session, said Dewhurst. He added that he plans to keep the percentage increase in spending for the general revenue budget in the low single digits. In order to ensure a balanced budget for future biennia, said Dewhurst, the state must try to preserve as much of the $2-$4 billion surplus as possible.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, January 10, at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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