School Funding, Marijuana Top Issues as Texas Legislature Convenes

The Texas State Legislature kicks back into high gear today and members of the San Antonio delegation are predicting a different tone compared to last session, which was dominated by social issues, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

State Rep Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) has been in Austin for more than one decade, and he's never heard this much talk about tackling school finance and skyrocketing property taxes, which are intimately linked.

"The November elections, there were a lot of folks put to task as for as much they're paying in school taxes," he says. Larson says there's pressure to get the state to pay 50-percent of what it costs to operate the public schools system.  We’re paying about 37-percent right now."

He says, in Bexar County, 65-percent of taxes are school taxes and, over the last decade, the taxes have skyrocketed.

State Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) agrees.  He says there is bi-partisan support this session to tackle the problem.

"The pressure has become so great on local school districts that every one of us who own any kind of property, even if it's just the home your family has had for many years, there is tremendous property tax pressure."

What's not expected to be prominent this session are social issues, like the so-called bathroom bill, which dominated the last session with talk of transgender bathroom use.  

Larson says the only social issue that will gain traction involves the state's marijuana laws.

"The only thing that I know will get a meaningful dialog will be the medicinal use of marijuana."

Menendez hopes the state will roll back money spent on border security, now that President Trump is focused on getting federal funding for the wall.  Over the last two sessions, the state has spent $800,000 on border security.

"It could go toward creating a universal, full day Pre-K education program that would be an economic boom to the entire state."

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