AUSTIN, TX (KBTX) — Lawmakers from across the Lone Star State gather Tuesday at the State Capitol in Austin to begin the 140-day regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature.
Legislators will face many priorities in the upcoming session, including balancing the budget, improving the state’s infrastructure, and strengthening border security. School funding and safety, funding for public safety, including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and allocating a multi-million dollar surplus in funding will also be high priorities for lawmakers.
District 14 Representative John Rainey and District 12 Representative Kyle Kakal return for their sixth full session at Texas House and say they are ready to get back to work.
Rainey’s spokesman says one of his top priorities is to strengthen the public education system by finding ways to attract new teachers and raise salaries.
“From a public school perspective, I think we need to raise teachers’ salaries to a level where they can earn higher salaries and attract teachers,” Rainey said. “We are in a situation where the number of children, young people who have received diplomas in education and teaching is rather less than more, and we have more students, so we need to encourage young people to pursue education as a profession, and I think that this will require additional payment.
Rainey also says the state should work to ensure that retired educators are not left behind.
“Another area that I think we will be working on is raising the cost of living for returning teachers. Many of them have been retired for more than 20 years, and during this time they have not received a salary increase,” Rainey said. “I think we need to take care of it. Inflation has eaten that money.”
Rainey’s other priority is the state’s workforce. He says he would like more people to trade.
“We need more people with technical backgrounds as technicians, and we just haven’t been getting that, and we need more help in that regard,” Rainey said.
Representative Kakal says he would like to focus on the state’s infrastructure, especially water and electricity.
“What I hear from people is that they want us to get to Austin, take the oath, do our jobs and make sure we focus on our counties. People need infrastructure, they still want to see more trust in ERCOT, our transmission and our generation to make sure we can handle these cold snaps as well as the heat that we’re going to have this summer,” said Kakal.
“They just want to be able to live their lives and they want to make sure they can afford to pay their bills. I mean, agriculture is still the second industry in the state,” said Kakal. “Our food bills are higher, our electricity bills are higher, you know people are stressed and struggling and we need to make sure we have enough electricity, enough water that agriculture can produce. We have to make natural gas and diesel affordable.”
Like Rainey, Kakal says many parents want to focus on education and school safety.
“Our schools and ensuring that teachers have the opportunity to teach and children have the opportunity to go to school and learn as much as possible to succeed in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue in their later lives and careers,” Kakal said. .
The legislature is set for Tuesday at noon, with the last day of session on May 29.
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