Texas State Teachers Association believes money from $32.7B surplus should go

BEAUMONT, Texas — The 88th legislative session began in Austin Tuesday and already made history. 

The Texas Comptroller’s Office projects a record $32.7 billion surplus budget in 2023. State lawmakers have more money to spend than ever before, according to the Texas Tribune. 

The increased budget comes from inflation in 2022 and from the federal government sending out a great deal of money due to the pandemic.

“You’d think, ‘Oh my lord, everyone is hurting.’ They’re not,” Tom Taschinger, former editor at the Beaumont Enterprise and political analyst, said. “The federal government was so generous to the states. The states are generally in good shape.”

State lawmakers could spend the surplus on new infrastructure, tax relief, education and more. With Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislature, experts believe they will be the deciding factor when it comes to spending extra money.

Related: What to expect for the 88th Texas legislative session

“With that much money on the table, there are going to be a lot of hands grabbing at it,” Taschinger said. “And the lawmakers are going to have a lot of different options. Let me just put it like that.”

Taschinger believes conservatives could put the money toward property tax relief.

“People want relief in their property taxes, in their home or business,” Taschinger said. “They want that going down lower.”

Ovidia Molina is the president of the Texas State Teachers Association. The group is lobbying for some of the money to go toward education and schools. 

“We are below the national average for pay as well as student funding,” Molina said.

Molina feels that since many lawmakers campaigned on supporting education, it is time for them to put their money where their mouth is.

“We want our lawmakers to truly put our students and our educators first,” Molina said. 

She hopes money from the surplus will go toward increasing teacher salaries and improving retirement benefits.

“So this is a moment we have now that we could really use to our advantage to ensure the future of Texas because when we talk about our students, we are talking about the future of Texas,” Molina said.

Related: Rep. Christian Manuel Hayes plans to keep Southeast Texas first as he tackles tough issues in newly elected seat  

Regardless of how the money is spent, Taschinger believes Southeast Texas will benefit.

“Southeast Texans should be grateful that the speaker of the house is Dade Phelan, from Beaumont Texas,” Taschinger said. “We have someone at the very seat of power, right here in Southeast Texas who makes big-time decisions that affect our region and the entire state. Dade Phelan is a big, big player in Austin.”

The 88th legislative session will run through May 29, 2023.

Also on 12NewsNow.com … 

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