Brazos Valley lawmakers share vision for upcoming 88th Texas Legislature

KBTX News 3 at Ten EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 7:13 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - Lawmakers from across the Lone Star State are set to convene Tuesday at the State Capitol in Austin to begin the 140-day regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature.

In this upcoming session, lawmakers will have a lot of priorities to iron out 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 of funding will also be high priorities for lawmakers.

District 14 Representative John Raney and District 12 Representative Kyle Kacal are both returning for their 6th full session in the Texas House and say they’re ready to get back to work.

Representative Raney says one of his top priorities includes strengthening the public education system by finding ways to attract new teachers and raising pay.

“From a public school standpoint, I think we need to raise teachers’ pay to where they can make a better wage and attract teachers,” said Raney. “We are in a situation where the number of kids, young people graduating with education and teaching certificates is less rather than more and we have more students so we need to encourage young people to go into education as a profession and I think that’s going to require some additional pay.”

Raney also says the state must work to make sure retired educators are not forgotten.

“The other area that I feel like we’ll be working on is a cost of living increase for returned teachers. Many of them have been retired for over 20 years and have not had a pay raise during that period of time,” said Raney. " I think we need to take care of that. Inflation has eaten that money up.”

Raney’s other priority is the state’s workforce. He says he would like to see more people pursuing trade work.

“We need more people with technical backgrounds as technicians and were just not getting that and we need more help in that way,” said Raney.

Representative Kacal says he would like to put focus on the state’s infrastructure, specifically water and electricity.

“What I’m hearing from folks is they want us to get to Austin, get sworn in, get our job done and make sure we focus on our districts. People want infrastructure, still want to see more confidence in ERCOT and our transmission and our generation to make sure that we make it these cold snaps as well as the heat that we will have this summer,” said Kacal.

“They just want to be able to live their life and they want to make sure they can afford to pay their bills. I mean agriculture is still the number two industry in the state,” said Kacal. “Our grocery bills are higher, our electric bills are higher, you know people are stressed and struggling and we need to make sure that we have enough generation, enough water that agriculture can produce. We’ve got to get natural gas and diesel affordable.”

Like Raney, Kacal says many parents want a focus on Education and school safety.

“Our schools and making sure teachers have the ability to teach and kids have the opportunity to go to school and learn as much as they can to be successful at whatever endeavor they choose to pursue in their later life and career,” said Kacal.

The legislature is set to Tuesday at noon with the final day of the session convening on May 29.