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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday he will “absolutely” run for reelection in 2026, a reversal from previous comments he made saying this would be his final term. “I really love what I do,” Patrick said, praising the collegiality of the state Senate he leads. “I’m in good health, and I just won by eight hundred and thirty-some thousand votes, so why wouldn’t I come back? I think we’ll be in good shape in ’26 in the primary and the general.” Patrick won a third term last year by 12 percentage points, defeating Democrat Mike Collier. Patrick said prior to that election cycle that if he won reelection in 2022, “that’ll be my last term.” “That’ll be time,” Patrick said in July 2020. “I’m kind of a term-limits guy. That’ll be 12 years as lieutenant governor, if I’m blessed enough to win again.”    (27) view article arw

As we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome 2023, my family and I want to wish you and yours a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. While most folks are winding down after the holidays, the energy has picked up around your state Capitol, as the 88th legislative session officially begins Tuesday. With that in mind, I’d like to remind you of some of the resources our offices provide to make sure you remain the most important part of the process. Should you have any questions about a bill or want to voice your opinion on a proposal under consideration, our Capitol Office can be reached at (512) 463-0508. Our Capitol office also can help set up Capitol tours, reserve meeting rooms or give recommendations on places of interest around Austin. Finally, I invite you to visit your Capitol office, which is in Room E2.806. It’s always a pleasure to have constituents in town while we’re hard at work in Austin, and I want to encourage you and your family to pay us a visit if you find yourself in Austin over the next 140 days — our doors are always open. With that, here’s an update from your state Capitol.    (11) view article arw

ROBSTOWN, Texas — Veterinarian shortages could leave 75 million animals without medical care by the year 2030, according to a study from Mars Veterinary Health. Mars Veterinary Health reported a 6.5 percent increase in vet appointments for 2021 and said the number of veterinarians now compared to the demand for pet medical care. view article arw

Many educators say the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected student’s learning. Gladewater ISD is one of four school districts in Texas to receive a grant for a new program that is designed to help teachers improve their teaching skills. And it’s all based on how well individual students are learning. At all schools at Gladewater ISD there is a classroom dedicated to teachers. The weekly meetings geared towards grades or subjects are called clusters according to Gladewater ISD Executive Master TAP Teacher Kim Dolese. view article arw

For Meg Ramirez, the beginning of Gov. Greg Abbott’s third term was reason enough to take a day off work and drive several hours from San Benito to watch him get sworn in at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.  She and her daughter, Marina Herrera, were among hundreds outside the pink-domed Capitol building in Austin as Abbott took the oath of office for the third time, putting him on track to be the second-longest-running governor in state history. They spent much of the day walking around the Capitol grounds and cheering through the inaugural speeches.  “Everybody was excited,” Herrera said. “We got to talk to new people and everyone just had a good attitude about it all — they’re very optimistic.”   Abbott easily sailed to reelection in November after handily beating Democratic firebrand Beto O’Rourke despite a tumultuous second term marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, a statewide blackout, controversial new voting restrictions, a near-total abortion ban and the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. view article arw

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday outlined an agenda for his third term as governor. His proposals — light on specifics — are in concert with conservative themes he’s touted throughout his tenure as governor. Abbott is expected to offer more detailed proposals next month at his state of the state address. Here are some takeaways from his speech. view article arw

A number of school districts in the Rio Grande Valley are trying to get the Legislature to end what they says is an unfair funding advantage being afforded South Texas ISD. “Edcouch Elsa ISD is funded $30 million less than South Texas ISD for a similar student population,” said Lyford CISD Superintendent Kristin N. Brown. view article arw

AUSTIN — Legislators will take up redistricting this session, opening up the possibility for Republicans to further redraw districts in their favor. The Texas Senate voted unanimously to take up redistricting, a once-in-a decade practice of redrawing political district boundaries to accommodate changes in population. The Legislature undertook the process in 2021, after 2020 census figures showed the state grew more than any other in the U.S. Many Democrats decried it as gerrymandering. The prospect of redrawing district lines comes after litigation from Democratic Sens. Sarah Eckhardt of Austin and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio. Both charged that 2021′s redistricting violated the Texas Constitution. At the heart of their challenge was a matter of timing and COVID-19. The state constitution requires the Legislature to redraw district lines for the state’s 31 senators and 150 House representatives in the first regular session following the once-a-decade census. view article arw

As the Texas Legislature began its session on Tuesday, Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Dr. Christie Whitbeck laid out the district's legislative priorities to reporters. And at the top of her list is raising teachers' salaries and other incentives to attract and retain them. "We really need ways to get people into the profession," she said in a briefing at the district's administration building, noting that there is currently a nationwide shortage in teachers. "We've got to make teaching more attractive, so the young folks come out and they're excited."    (13) view article arw

Resident Joe Palmer noticed a pattern in Fort Worth ISD’s legislative priorities as the superintendent listed them: The district wants part of the nearly $33 billion surplus expected in the next budget for Texas. The school board Jan. 10 unanimously approved Fort Worth ISD’s 14 item to-do list for legislators. Eleven of the 14 priorities, which community input shaped, are related to funding. view article arw

Cooke County’s school superintendents are bracing for the new legislative session, which opens today in Austin. Some sort of property tax relief is likely — but what form it will take remains to be seen.Several property tax proposals could come up during the session, including one by State Rep. David Spiller (R-68) to replace local school levies for maintenance and operations with a new sales tax. It seems likely, however, that the state will continue to claw back money from school districts that raise more property tax revenues than projected for a given budget year. The process, called compression, effectively gives the legislature and the Texas Education Agency control over spending by local school districts.    (13) view article arw

In a 145-3-2 vote, State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was re-elected as speaker of the Texas House on Tuesday. Tinderholt received three votes, while two members registered themselves as “present not voting.”      Tinderholt framed his race for the speakership as being in opposition to Democrats holding committee chairmanships.      “Our speaker courted the Democrats to get his position, gave them chairmanships, protected them from being punished when they fled to D.C. … and today, every single one of our Democrat colleagues will be voting for his leadership in this chamber,” said State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) in his nomination of Tinderholt. “Some will claim this is good bipartisanship. But it’s actually just a powerful consolation prize for losing elections.” view article arw

Texas lawmakers return to Austin this week for the start of a new legislative session. It will be the first one since the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, and it will be the second regular session since the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in education. Public education advocates have a wish list of issues they’d like the Legislature to prioritize. Topping that list is increasing state funding for public schools to help, among other things, raise teacher salaries after tens of thousands of educators have left their jobs. Democratic lawmakers, including two from Austin, are seeking a major change to the state’s school finance system which would increase funding for public education. Meanwhile, Republican state leaders, like Gov. Greg Abbott, have voiced support for school choice, which would allow families to use taxpayer dollars to send kids to nonpublic schools. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — The ceremony often dominates opening day at the state legislature, but some official business regularly gets accomplished in the initial hours. In the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday, members overwhelmingly re-elected Dade Phelan as Speaker. The Republican from Beaumont then announced a number of legislative priorities in his three-page opening remarks. Among them was how lawmakers should address the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last May. view article arw

KXAN is sitting down with superintendents across the Central Texas area to talk to them about challenges, goals, and safety measures. Lake Travis Independent School District Superintendent Paul Norton spoke with KXAN anchor Tom Miller about staffing and legislative hopes, but their discussion started with safety. view article arw

LUBBOCK — Rural Texas is home to more than 3 million people. If it were an independent state, it would be the 33rd largest in the nation. It is steeped in tradition and mythology. From the High Plains in West Texas to the Piney Woods in East Texas, it is as unique as it is sprawling. And yet, residents continue to lack access to broadband, health care and high-earning jobs. Some towns are on the brink of collapse. Local leaders are doing what they can to find their footing in the 21st century. Many are using federal pandemic recovery funds to reinvest in their infrastructure, creating new economic opportunities for businesses and developing new high school programs to better prepare students for high-tech jobs in health care and energy. The problems and solutions in rural Texas were examined at an event hosted by The Texas Tribune at Texas Tech University on Nov. 17-18. In a series of live discussions with federal leaders, state lawmakers and local elected officials highlighted the opportunities for the region in public education, health care and natural resources. Here are a few of the takeaways.    (13) view article arw

Texas voters have chosen a slate of fresh faces to represent them in the Texas House in 2023. As the newest lawmakers learn to navigate the pressure cooker that is the Texas Legislature, they’re also hoping to make (and block) policy changes on behalf of their districts. How do they see their roles shaping up this session and what are their top priorities? view article arw

On Tuesday, lawmakers in Texas will convene in Austin to begin the 88th Texas Legislature. While there, local school districts will encourage representatives to support decisions focused on education. Bryan ISD touts a slogan, “Children First, Always.” When the school board makes decisions on what they need from the legislature, they say this slogan guides those decisions. view article arw

SAN ANTONIO--As state lawmakers make their way back to Austin next week, many eyes are on education -- and the money behind it. Here's what you need to know heading into this session, and what it could mean for your child's school. Advocates say each year there are about a thousand bills filed related to education. view article arw

AUSTIN — Today, Governor Greg Abbott officially appointed Jane Nelson to serve as the 115th Texas Secretary of State. Upon the filing of her official appointment, Nelson issued the following statement: "I am deeply honored to continue my career as a public servant as Texas Secretary of State, and am grateful for the confidence Governor Abbott has placed in me to serve in this critical new role. As Secretary of State, I hope to continue safeguarding the integrity of our state's elections and enhance transparency so that all Texas voters can have confidence in fair, accurate elections across each of our 254 counties. I also look forward to working with our many international partners - including our largest trading partner, Mexico - to enhance Texas' position on the global stage and continue building our reputation as a global economic powerhouse."    (6) view article arw

Get a better a look at the financial state of Texas through our Jan. 9 conversation with Comptroller Glenn Hegar. Join us for an hourlong conversation with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar as he discusses the biennial revenue estimate, which will tell state lawmakers how much they’ll have available to spend when they write a new two-year budget in 2023. The conversation takes place at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, in The Texas Tribune’s Studio 919. view article arw

Texas lawmakers pledged to tackle persistent teacher shortages when they reconvene in Austin next month. They’re looking for solutions to lagging teacher pay, retention woes and recruitment challenges. While schools across the nation also are dealing with a dearth of educators, some Texas-specific issues exacerbate the problem here. Among them: The largest teacher preparation program in the state is failing state standards and could lose accreditation. Meanwhile, roughly three-quarters of Texas teachers say they’ve seriously considered leaving the profession, according to a fall poll by the Charles Butt Foundation. “We can’t start sacrificing quality just to address the teacher shortage. I’m a firm believer we can do both,” Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, said. “We can figure out how to walk and chew gum at the same time.” view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott has reappointed Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath and appointed Kendall Baker to the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) for terms set to expire on June 30, 2026 and June 30, 2023, respectively. The Southern Regional Education Board works with states to improve public education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education. The nation’s first regional interstate compact for education, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators who recognized the link between education and economic vitality. view article arw

Legislators and Texas policy organizations plan to prioritize public education, property tax relief and infrastructure improvements during the upcoming 88th legislative session that convenes Jan. 10. Lawmakers are projected to be working with a $26.9 billion budget surplus due to high sales tax revenues statewide, which policy experts said is historic. "We can’t count on this type of surplus happening again,” said John Hryhorchuk, senior vice president for policy and advocacy at Texas 2036, a public policy organization that focuses on statewide long-term planning. “It’s historical for a reason. We’ve never experienced anything quite like this.” In July, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the state’s revenue estimate stating how much money lawmakers will have available in their upcoming session. Hegar’s estimate showed nearly $150 billion available to the Legislature for general-purpose spending, an increase from $112.5 billion it had in 2021. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In its toast to the “dopes, villains, and terrible ideas that bedeviled our beloved state over the past twelve months,” Texas Monthly crowned the city of Austin its 2023 Bum Steer of the Year. Previous years’ winners included Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party and former Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen. In the article, Texas Monthly said the hundreds of thousands expected to join the metro area in the next 10 years to fulfill jobs at Tesla, Oracle and other companies join those who’ve already moved to the region. The article condemned the city’s skyrocketing costs of living as a byproduct of Austin becoming a “tech-bro theme park.” It comes as the city is grappling with intense affordability concerns. Recent reporting from found Austin’s real estate scene is likely to become a “nobody’s market,” unfriendly to both buyers and sellers. Austinites approved in November a $350 million affordable housing bond, with plans to ramp up production of low and moderate-income housing for individuals and families. view article arw

HOUSTON - The Texas legislative session in Austin is 30 days away and this spring lawmakers will have an unprecedented pile of surplus money to spend. Over the past few weeks, the big three of Lone Star State Government, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan have begun sharing publicly their thoughts on just how all that extra cash should be invested. Fresh off his re-election to a third term as a leader of the Texas Senate, Lt. Governor Patrick relayed his own plans for how he'd like to invest the unprecedented $30 billion budget surplus. view article arw

Private school vouchers were within a handful of votes of becoming Texas law in May 2005. Former Rep. Carter Casteel still remembers the constituent who confronted her in her office that day. “He kind of threatened me, not to harm me, but that I wouldn't be reelected if I didn’t vote for the vouchers,” Casteel, a New Braunfels Republican, said in an interview. A public school teacher and school board member before she served in the Legislature, Casteel is and was a staunch opponent of private school vouchers. view article arw

The dueling approaches are coming into focus as lawmakers prepare to return to Austin for the session which begins Jan. 10.  The legislative session is more than a month away, but fault lines are already emerging between Texas’ top two Republican leaders on two major issues.  Both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick want to use the state’s massive budget surplus to deliver property tax relief, but they appear split on how far to go — and how to pay for it. And in a starker contrast, Patrick has deemed it a top priority to continue fixing the power grid, while Abbott has declared the issue resolved.  “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” Abbott famously said after the 2021 regular legislative session.  Patrick, by contrast, said Wednesday that making the grid more reliable was “the most important thing this session besides managing our money.”    (07) view article arw

Texans once again aligned with the Republican Party this month by electing GOP candidates in every statewide office on the ballot and returning the party’s healthy majority to the Legislature. This was no surprise. Republicans have been winning statewide elections in Texas for the better part of 30 years. More startling than the results was the way that the Republican Party of Texas reacted to them. In an email the day after the election, the state GOP warned of “two distinct Americas” at war with each other. “There is no longer any middle ground. Any appeal to common sense, rational thinking, or compromising is over,” the party’s screed read. This is the type of toxic tribalism that has turned so many Americans away from politics. Nowhere in the Texas Constitution does it say that Republican elected officials only represent Republican citizens, or that Democratic elected officials only represent Democratic citizens. While it is the job of political parties to create contrasts, those who actually govern understand that this work requires collaboration and cooperation. view article arw

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A bill has been filed for the upcoming Texas legislative session that would require publishers to assign ratings to books they sell to state school districts and open-enrollment charter schools. The bill was filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, who serves northwest Harris County, and he said the idea came to him while behind the wheel. view article arw

The Texas House Republican Caucus backed House Speaker Dade Phelan, R- Beaumont, over Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, in a 78-6 vote during a closed-door meeting at the Capitol. Phelan served as speaker for the first time in the 2021 session. While the official vote is a month away, when all 150 members will select a speaker, Saturday’s vote signals that Phelan has strong support among the majority party. The 47-year-old real estate broker thanked his Republican colleagues on Twitter on Saturday: “Every member will play a role in our legislative process, and I look forward to earning the votes of all my colleagues.” view article arw

Bryan ISD administrators are now letting all residents weigh in on proposed campus boundary changes. That’s after associate superintendent Barba Ybarra shared the latest committee recommendations during Monday’s school board meeting. Click HERE to read and download proposed BISD campus boundary changes. An online survey will be collecting opinions through December 16. That will be followed by focus group meetings where those who complete a survey by December 9 are invited to participate. view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott and other far-right Texas Republicans will be fighting an even steeper hill when it comes to the school voucher programs they hope to enact in the next legislative session. The Republican-controlled State Board of Education voted 11-2 to reject school vouchers earlier this month. For years, school vouchers have been a pet project of far-right Texas Republicans. Backed by huge campaign contributions from oil moguls Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, the push has been repeatedly framed as giving parents more choices when it comes to sending their children to public schools. The goal is to allow tax money to be spent sending children to private, often conservative religious schools while secular public schools wither from lack of resources. Much of the backlash against “critical race theory” and the inclusion of gender and sexual orientation diversity in curriculums has been driven by the voucher movement, something that conservative thought leader Christopher Rufo openly admits. view article arw

WASHINGTON — When U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s podcast got picked up by the massive radio network iHeartMedia, the Texas Republican declared it a “big damn deal.” A government watchdog says that big deal is also illegal. Senators are prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists, which iHeartMedia has. According to the Campaign Legal Center, the company is providing free production and marketing services for Cruz's podcast under an “unprecedented national syndication agreement for a sitting member of Congress.”    (5) view article arw

Texas Secretary of State John Scott will step down from his role as the state’s top elections official at the end of the year.   “When I took office as Texas Secretary of State in October of last year, I did so with a singular goal and mission in mind: to help restore Texas voters’ confidence in the security of our state’s elections,” Scott wrote in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday. Scott said he would be returning to private practice.  Scott has served as interim secretary of state since Abbott appointed him last fall. He has struggled to walk the line between reassuring the public that the state’s elections are safe and secure and entertaining questions from some vocal critics — largely supporters of former President Donald Trump — who cast doubt on the integrity of elections. The Dallas Morning News first reported his resignation. view article arw