Texas’ 88th legislative session kicks off with lawmakers determining what to do with $33 billion surplus

Beneath the capitol dome, once again, with an unprecedented $33 billion surplus to spend, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called his Senate lawmakers to duty as members of the Texas House simultaneously elected their speaker.

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With only a symbolic show of opposition from the far right, Republican Representative Dade Phelan coasted to re-election, drawing all but three votes.

The lawyer and businessman from Beaumont urged his members to return a sizable chunk of the surplus back to Texans, in the form of property tax relief.

"I have heard about the economy, inflation, and the difficulty in making ends meet. Ever-increasing property taxes have led many to feel year in and year out that they are renting their property from the government. Like them, I believe that tax relief should be a priority," said Phelan.

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And in a statement that offered hope to those seeking action in the wake of unspeakable heartache, Phelan signaled to surviving Uvalde parents, his intent to make the school children of Texas, safer.

"Last May the lives of 21 Texans, teachers, and children were stolen when a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary in Uvalde Texas," said Phelan. "We owe it to the memory of those children and teachers to make sensible, meaningful change."

Speaking to both gatherings of lawmakers, Governor Greg Abbott assured each that the gigantic budget windfall offers undeniable evidence, that the Lone Star State is being well run.

"While Texas has a more than 32 billion dollar budget surplus, California has a more than a $20 billion dollar deficit. While we have a surplus, the Governor of New York is asking the Federal Government for money," said Abbott.

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Meantime, State Senator John Whitmire of Houston believes a substantial portion of the surplus should be spent improving the state’s underperforming mental health care system.

"I think we have got to address that mental health is non-existent as a treatment system in the state of Texas. You nearly have to be in the criminal justice system to get any mental health services," said Whitmire. "We need to seek out those individuals, many of them are homeless, and get them the mental health treatment that they need."