Lawmakers to begin 86th legislative session by tackling major issues in Texas

Two big topics: Property taxes and public school funding

AUSTIN, Texas – Tuesday marks the beginning of the 140 days that the state legislature will meet and two of the big topics lawmakers want to tackle are property taxes and public school funding.

"We have to reform it," Sen. Jose Menendez said.

Reforming the public school system is one of Menendez's many goals for the 86th session, and the issue represents a large number of the 988 bills that have been submitted so far.

One of Menendez's main focus points is investing in the public school system, and he said putting more funds into the school system will also take care of another issue on legislators plates -- lowering property taxes.

"In reforming public school finance, I think we also have to address the issue of property taxes," Menendez said. "We do it right if we accomplish both things."

While longtime Sen. Menendez and freshman Rep. Steve Allison are with different parties and work on different sides of the Capitol, both have similar goals this session when it comes to investing in public education.

"I think there is a consensus with both Republicans and Democrats that education has to be a primary focus this session," Allison said. "And that necessarily has to include teachers."

Allison is filling Joe Straus' former district 121 position and Rep. Dennis Bonnen, from Angleton, is set to fill Straus' speaker position.

Allison said even though this will be his first session, he has a good feeling about both parties uniting behind funding public education to help boost teachers salaries.

"Quite different from Washington, (there's a level of cooperation that's) very good for our own district and state," Allison said. "I think there is a lot of cohesiveness and corporation and I will do everything I can to maintain that."

It's not just education and property tax reform -- both Allison and Menendez say they also have goals within health care. Allison said he is hoping to improve mental health and women's health care in the state, and Menendez is wanting to tackle the issue of making medical marijuana legal.

"I think we need to come out of the dark ages," Menendez said.

If passed, Menendez said Texas would be the 34th state to legalize medical marijuana. He said it would not only help patients but also address other areas of drug abuse in the state.

"I've been told by some pain specialists if they sold cannabis products it could help curb the opioid narcotic crisis," Menendez said.

Menendez said he is excited to get started and invites any San Antonio residents to Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol.

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