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What to know about the 2023 Texas legislative session

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Renee Josse De Lisle/The Cougar

This year, the 2023 Texas legislative session is happening between Jan. 10 and May 29. During this time, lawmakers write new laws and address a spending budget for various public policy issues. 

Political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus shared an overview of this year’s legislative session and broke down how lawmakers plan on budgeting this time around. 

What is the legislative session?

Rottinghaus said the legislative session meets every two years and lasts 140 days, however during the first 30 days, they are not allowed to operate unless the governor permits a special session.

“The amount of time that you have to actually work is really short,” Rottinghaus said. “Strictly speaking the only thing they have to do is write a budget, but obviously a big state like Texas that has such a booming population, there’s a lot for them to do. 

 The budget includes every recurring policy issue that the state funds such as transportation, public education and funds for Medicaid, which are things the state is required to provide constitutionally, Rottinghaus said.

What policies are being targeted in the 2023 session?

“The biggest things that have been mentioned have been more money for public education, especially teacher pay,” Rottinghaus said. “A lot of people in cities are asking for more money for infrastructure relief. There are a lot of advocates for water projects to help bring water to the state.”

Comparing the previous session to this year’s

With the different concerns being addressed, the funding requests for these policies also increase. The question is how much of an increase will there be. 

Rottinghaus explained that differences in each category can be found in the fiscal size up, which shows how much the state is spending on certain issues. Although the state is continuously spending money, there are limitations under the state fonstitution on what they spend and the amount.

“They’ll have to decide what their priorities are and that dictates how much they are going to spend on things,” Rottinghaus said. “So depending on where you are politically, people say there’s too much or not enough spent on everything.”

For this session, there is around a $30 billion surplus that Texas legislators will have to decide what to spend the extra funds on, Rottinghaus said. He believes the state will use the extra money primarily for tax relief, but exactly how remains unknown. 

Rottinghaus shared that because this year’s session follows an election, political tension will be lower, especially on controversial topics that Texas has seen in past sessions. 

“So there are a lot of new people in Austin who are going to be facing these sorts of big questions for the first time,” Rottinghaus said. “So we’ll see fewer hot-button issues on the agenda like guns or abortion. That’s not to say that we won’t see some controversy, but I think generally we’re going to see a less intense political session than we’ve seen the last couple of years.”

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