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The 88th Texas Legislative session begins with a $33-billion surplus

Leaders in Texas head back to the capitol focusing on gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, border control and much more, with great division between the two parties.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers went back to work for the 88th Legislative session Tuesday.

It's the first time the legislative body will be back since the democrats took off for Washington D.C. in 2021, in an effort to deny the house a quorum to block a voting restrictions bill.

This year political analyst Patrick Flavin with Baylor University said there will be great division on major topics like gun control and LGBTQ rights. 

Flavin said the only thing both parties might agree on is how to spend the $33-billion surplus left over from influx of taxes this year.

Gov. Greg Abbott proposed half of the surplus go to lowering property taxes for Texans.

"As to where this money is allocated, we will have to see," Flavin said.

Texas lawmakers have a total of $188.2 billion to spend, all due to record breaking revenue growth.

There are spending limits that the Texas Constitution and state law create so the full amount cannot be spent.

Flavin said the big question is on what lawmakers will agree to budget the money.

For example, he said when it comes to gun control, republicans want to focus on mental health, while democrats want to focus on access to guns.

"There will probably be a lot of heated discussion, debates but it remains to be seen whether we're going to see some major legislation happen," Flavin said.

Over the next five months, Flavin said  things could pick up come February, but most decisions are never made before the end of the session.

The 88th legislative session will end on May 29. That final day is referred to as "sine die." Gov. Greg Abbott can call for a special session following sine die, but special sessions can only last up to 30 days. The governor has the sole authority to determine which items lawmakers consider during a special session.

Texas Legislature kicks off 88th session - YouTube

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