Newsletter: The House Stands Adjourned
The 2017 legislative session ended Monday, and I'm proud of what we accomplished in the Texas House. We delivered results on a number of issues that are important to our community in Bexar County and the future of our entire state.
I'd like to quickly provide an update on how we addressed some of our top priorities and the state's most pressing challenges:
Child Protection: Leading up to the start of the legislative session, a number of high-profile tragedies had exposed critical problems at Child Protective Services, which was plagued by high turnover among employees entrusted to protect children from abuse. In order to bring stability to the CPS workforce, the Legislature passed a pair of funding bills adding more than 1,400 new caseworkers. We also made a number of other reforms to CPS and foster care.
Mental Health: We have made mental health a top priority since 2015, when I created the House Select Committee on Mental Health. This year, the Legislature directed key resources toward renovating state mental health facilities, reducing waiting lists for services and establishing matching grants to support community initiatives. This was a banner year for improving mental health care in Texas.
Education: While it's unfortunate that the Texas Senate fought our plan to overhaul public school finance and reduce the burden on property taxes, we found other ways to improve education policy. The Legislature reformed the A-F school rating system to ensure that schools are evaluated more fairly and accurately. And we put significant new dollars into preserving health care for retired teachers.
Cybersecurity: House Bill 8 will improve the protection of Texans' private data in the hands of state agencies, while House Bill 9 gives prosecutors tools to fight cybercrimes. The state budget for the next two years provides more than $100 million in funding to address critical cybersecurity and IT needs across state agencies.
Fiscal Discipline: The Legislature closed a budget shortfall and kept state spending flat over the next two years, despite continued growth in the Texas population. The budget does not require higher taxes and it will leave about $11 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund by the end of the upcoming budget cycle.
I'm grateful for the chance to represent Bexar County and to work with my colleagues in the Texas House, and I'm proud of what we accomplished. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to visiting with you further about the record of this year's legislative session.