Abbott Will Break Silence on Legislative Priorities in State of State Address

So far, Gov. Greg Abbott has kept his priorities for the session close to his chest.

By Rhonda Fanning & Alain StephensJanuary 30, 2017 2:13 pm

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott will give his second State of the State address since taking office. He’ll use the speech to outline his priorities for the 85th legislative session.

Abbott has been largely quiet about his priorities, while other top leaders – namely Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Joe Straus – have made their goals for the session well known. Patrick has already marked 25 bills as his priorities.

Mike Ward, the Austin bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle, says that although Abbott has a history of doing things more quietly than other state officials, he won’t hold back about the items at the top of his list come Tuesday.

While no details about the speech have been released, Ward expects sanctuary cities, education, border security and the reform of Child Protective Services to be at the front of Abbott’s agenda.

“This session [Abbott’s] got some sea legs from experience before and he’s expected to know how to push some of his agenda and to get his points across,” Ward says. “As governor, Abbott has the final say on what bills pass and which bills don’t pass because he carries the veto pen.”

Ward says that it’s too early to tell whether there will be conflicts between Abbott, Patrick and Straus. All three are in agreement that the state’s CPS system needs reform.

In addition to their differing priorities, lawmakers must also contend with a budget shortfall this session.

“[The state’s] revenues don’t equal what it thinks it needs to fund all programs,” Ward says. “They’re going to have to be very careful on how they allocate their money.”

Written by Molly Smith.