AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took the oath of office Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers and esteemed guests, including actor Chuck Norris and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, were on hand to watch the Republican lawmakers be sworn in for their second terms in office.
During their inaugural addresses, both leaders set high expectations for the session, saying this would be the year lawmakers work together to achieve school finance and property tax reform for Texans.
The longest-serving Democrat and Republican Senators, John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) together introduced Patrick for his inaugural address.
"The people of Texas didn't elect us to be silent on things that matter. They elected us to work together and do what is right for the people of Texas,” Patrick said.
“We have a moment in time, right now, to set the stage for an even greater Texas for future generations. It is within our grasp," said Patrick. "The elections are over for now -- we will have them again in two years to air out our differences, but for right now, it's time for us to work together for all of the people of Texas. I intend to do my part."
The Lieutenant Governor said his top three priorities are clear; reform the property tax system, fix school finance and give teachers raises. And he announced Senator Jane Nelson filed Senate Bill 3 Tuesday to give all 350,000 classroom teachers in Texas $5,000 annual raises in 2020 and 2021. The bill is estimated to cost the state $3.7 billion.
Governor Greg Abbott gave his support to the idea during his inaugural address, saying Texas students can succeed, but they need good teachers and school leaders with bold vision.
"We must ensure that destiny is not determined by ZIP code,” said Abbott. “Students from the most challenging circumstances have proven that they can perform at the highest levels. But we have the obligation to give them the opportunity to do so."
The Governor also said it's time for lawmakers to address property taxes and talked about what action they could take to do that.
“Texas must limit the ability of taxing authorities to raise your taxes,” Abbott said as the crowd applauded. “At the same time, Texas must end unfunded mandates on cities and counties."
He also said taxpayers should have the power to fire their property tax appraisers.
It seems lawmakers are wasting no time to get the ball rolling on the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House’s, Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), priorities.
Monday night, the Legislative Budget Board published documents showing the House is suggesting the State increase public education funding by 17 percent, but also cut funding for Health and Human Services by three percent.
Meanwhile, Senator Nelson also filed Senate Bill 1 Tuesday, the Senate version of the budget. It includes increased spending for public education, mental health and public safety.
Lawmakers will now spend the next four months working to come to a consensus on the legislation.
Click here to watch the 2019 Inauguration of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.