By Jay Barksdale, Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Education
Since January 8th, my team and I have been running laps and logging miles escorting Dallas business leaders around the Capitol, talking to our elected officials about the priorities articulated in the DRC’s Legislative Agenda. As the session enters its last month, we’re looking forward to seeing final resolution on some the policy debates surrounding our legislative priorities.
You’ve probably heard by now that water and transportation issues have dominated a lot of the conversation at the Capitol. It had been really encouraging to see our elected officials understand and take on such long-term, complex issues that so dramatically impact the future of Texas. Unfortunately, the primary water funding bill was knocked down because of a technicality. House leadership is now searching for a legislative solution and garner enough votes for passage. It would be a huge failure for Texas if we aren’t successful in the effort.
As always, education has also been widely discussed. Many legislators have expressed a desire to reevaluate our accountability and graduation requirement systems. A strong majority of lawmakers are also committed to replenish some of the funding that was taken out of public education last session. Unfortunately, the increase of $2.5 billion for public education is still not enough to satisfy everyone and this will lead to more legislative gamesmanship in the final weeks. Be on the lookout for this to impact important issues like the water funding bill last week.
Also in that conference, we are looking for legislators to fund economic tools like the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund, that are so vital to the DRC’s company relocation efforts. We have worked hard this session to help our leaders understand how important these tools are to our local and state economy.
We’re in the homestretch of session so expect a large amount of activity during these last few weeks as a number of bills are debated. We will let you know how you can help as these issues are brought to the floor. In many cases, a quick call to your local Legislator voicing your support for an issue can make a big difference.
It’s been a whirlwind 112 days in Austin, and we’re gearing up for a final sprint to the finish line. We are hopeful that this will be a productive and helpful session for the business community in Dallas.