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Three weeks remain in the 83rd legislative session, and the Texas House continues to tackle the serious challenges facing our state.
One of the House’s top priorities is making our state budget more transparent and accountable. For more than two decades, the state has collected certain taxes and fees for one purpose and then used them to certify other areas of the budget. The Legislature has increasingly used this practice in good economic times and bad over the last 20 years.
For example, part of a fee on vehicle titles is supposed to go toward reducing air pollution. However, millions of those dollars have instead piled up in an account so they could be counted to help balance the rest of the state budget.
Almost a year ago, I asked House Members to recommend ways to reduce the amount of fees used for budget certification. That work came to fruition last week when the House overwhelmingly passed House Bills 6 and 7. If they become law, these bills will ensure that more of the money that the state collects will be used for its intended purpose. The legislation also reduces almost $300 million in fees on Texas taxpayers.
The passage of these bills represents an important step toward making our budget more straightforward, and I will continue to work with Members of the House and Senate to see that these proposals become law. Taxpayers deserve to know that their money will be used in an efficient, accountable way.
Reducing the Burden of Standardized Testing
One of the first bills passed this session was House Bill 5, which reduced the number of End-of-Course exams required in high schools. The legislation also gives local schools more control over how they use such tests.
Last week, the House passed another important measure that would give schools more time to focus on teaching and learning. House Bill 2836 eliminates standardized writing tests in grades four and seven. It also limits the amount of time that schools can spend on state exams.
A number of standardized tests are required by federal law. By passing House Bill 5 and House Bill 2836, however, the Texas House has shown its commitment to increasing local control and giving educators more flexibility to meet the individual needs of their students.
House Stays Focused on Key Challenges
As I mentioned earlier, about three weeks remain in our legislative session. The House has compiled a number of accomplishments over the last couple of months, but plenty of work remains.
The House will focus in these final weeks on the issues that will strengthen our private-sector economy for years to come. Those issues include improving public education, securing reliable supplies of water, and making state government more transparent and efficient. In addition, the House and Senate are working together to write a state budget that maintains fiscal discipline while addressing critical priorities.
I am confident that we will end this session successfully by addressing the issues that matter most to Texas families. I look forward to visiting with the residents of District 121 about those accomplishments in the weeks and months ahead. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions and concerns.
Speaker of the House
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus released the following statement Wednesday after the House approved House Bills 6 and 7 on second reading:
“Today the House took a critical step toward making our budget more transparent and straightforward. I want to thank Representatives Otto and Darby for their leadership on this issue over the last year, and I look forward to working with Members of the House and Senate to ensure that this important legislation becomes law.”
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