AUSTIN, Texas — Texas' 86th legislative session began earlier this week in Austin and after all the formalities, state lawmakers are getting to work.
3News was in the state capitol for the start of the current legislative session, and on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott spoke with 3News live from Austin to discuss his priorities for this session.
Abbott said among those priorities are issues like property taxes, school finance reform and safety on our school campuses around the state.
"All of those issues are going to be solved. There is commitment among all of the leaders in Austin to make sure that we fully address the school finance system, that we pay our best teachers more, we take care of teacher retirement, and that we cut property taxes," Abbott said. "Listen. There was a mandate that was issued by the voters of Texas this past election, and that is that those issues I just articulated be addressed, and be solved, and we are committed to do it. That is exactly why myself, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house met and had a press conference yesterday announcing our joint collaboration to solve these problems."
Abbott explained that school safety is another big issue during this legislative session and highlighted the aftermath of the Santa Fe school shooting.
"I hosted three days of round-table discussions and after that put out a 40-point plan to better address it," Abbott said. "Some of those issues have already been implemented. Some are going to have to be taken up by the legislature; but we cannot conclude this session without doing a lot to address school safety."
The governor said one measure that has received strong support is addressing the mental health needs of students, something Abbott said will go a long way in helping to protect students.
Abbott said the state's continued recovery from Hurricane Harvey will remain a big issue, including funding for communities and for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency, or TWIA.
Recently, TWIA was set to increase insurance rates. Abbott declared an emergency order to halt that and give the legislature an opportunity to address those cost increases.
Those aren't the only cost increases that Texans are worried about. According to Abbott, property taxes need to be reigned in.
"Property taxes are through the roof. It is putting small businesses out of business. It's forcing seniors out of their homes. It's making it hard for young adults to buy their first homes," Abbott said. "I know the one thing we all do agree upon, because we heard it from voters in Corpus Christi and elsewhere, and that is that we cannot leave this session without addressing skyrocketing property taxes."
Finally, Abbott addressed the funding of a border wall that has led to a budget stalemate in Washington D.C. -- the cause of the ongoing partial government shutdown.
"It's a fact that we have a porous border. It's a fact that we have a wall already in place in certain areas. It's a fact that fencing can work," Abbott said. "It's also a fact that we have lost hundreds of Border Patrol agents who had been in the state of Texas who are now elsewhere. That makes Texas more vulnerable. So there are a lot of resources that Texas needs if we're going to make sure that we keep our state secure."