We are midway through the 12th week of Session, and have begun to debate substantial legislation that will have large impacts on our state.
Today we will debate HB 4 on the House Floor. HB 4 sets the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT), which is the mechanism that will lay out the water plan for the next 50 years. Upon passage, HB 11 will appropriate a one time expenditure of $2 billion out of the ‘Rainy Day Fund’ towards this initiative. Texas must address water development to mitigate against long term drought and to keep pace with a rapidly expanding population.
Yesterday, after around 10 hours of discussion we passed HB 5, the education reform bill. HB 5 greatly scales back standardized testing and the one-size-fits-all mentality of education. The bill contains several measures that increase vocational education as well, giving students that do not desire a college education more options upon graduation. This bill addresses the vast amount of feedback on education we received from parents, teachers, administrators and citizens.
Several weeks back I filed HB 1568 to stop school districts from granting healthcare benefits to same-sex partners. At the time, only one school district in the state was providing these benefits, but it was rumored more were considering similar policies. Yesterday, it was announced that a second school district would begin implementing this costing a minimum of $600,000 per year of state tax-payer money. That money would be enough to cover the salaries of many teachers in HD 68. Education dollars are meant for educating our kids, not for enacting policies that go against the Texas Constitution and traditional family values. Read more here.
We are set to hear the state budget on the House Floor next week on April 4th and 5th. The State of Texas must pass a new, balanced budget each biennium to provide funding for everything from our schools to constructing new roads.