The 86th session of the Texas Legislature begins at noon Tuesday. Over at the Capitol, workers are putting the final touches on the building (“wet paint” signs abound) and finishing the process of moving legislators and staff into new offices.

Senate and House members received good news heading into the session, as Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar informed legislators on Monday that they will have more money to work with. In his biennial revenue estimate, he projected that lawmakers should have $119 billion available for developing a state budget, around $9 billion more than last session. He also noted, however, that the outlook could be volatile given declining oil prices and the fluctuating international economy.

In related news, the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF, also known as the Rainy Day Fund) is projected to reach a record level of $15 billion. Legislators prefer to use ESF disbursements for one-time costs, but using this fund for expenses such as those related to Hurricane Harvey could free up general revenue for ongoing costs such as increased state funding for public schools.  

Legislative leaders have made clear that they expect this session to address school finance, with teacher compensation as a related issue. School safety/student discipline, retirement and health insurance funding, testing concerns, and charter school expansion will also be major topics of interest and activity.

Your TCTA lobby team will spend the next 140 days fighting for you and your students at the Capitol. Stay tuned to these posts and our social media accounts for the most accurate and up-to-date information available.