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Government/Politics

Abbott’s First State Of The State Address To Be Keenly Watched For Content And Tone

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will outline his expectations for the legislative session Tuesday, when he delivers his first State of the State address.

The State of the State gives Abbott the opportunity to let lawmakers know what he expects from them this session. After all, the stroke of a governor’s veto pen can spell the end of bills passed by the legislature.

In advance of the speech, Abbott’s office released an online video that included Texans talking about what they wanted to hear from their elected lawmakers.  

In the video, Texas residents mention funding and reforms for Public Education, Transportation and Veteran’s Affairs — issues that Abbott did address on the campaign trail.

San Antonio Republican Rep. Lyle Larson did not expect major surprises from the governor’s speech. He said the question on everyone’s mind was what Abbott would say about border security. Larson wanted to know if Abbott would be willing to sit down and discuss it with Mexico’s president. “We’ve spent 70 years trying to unilaterally secure that border, we’ve been unsuccessful, and I think it’s imperative to use the protocols that the State Dept. uses; of sitting down with both countries when there is a border conflict and trying to work through it,” said Larson.

Larson said a Texas governor had not had a face-to-face meeting with a president of Mexico for the last 16 years.

Last week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that he was in favor of keeping the National Guard on the border, but Abbott has not indicated if he supported that view. San Antonio Democratic Rep. Justin Rodriguez  wanted to know where Abbott stood on the matter. “I mean these are folks that have regular jobs, they want some degree of certainty, not you’re going to go and be there for an infinite amount of time. If they’re going to be there for another month, let them know they’re going to be there for another month, six weeks whatever it might be,” said Rodriguez.

Prof. Mark Jones, with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, said he would be listening for how Abbott defined his priorities beyond immigration. “Ranging from property tax relief, business tax relief, through even something like Medicaid expansion, which we won’t hear too much about,” Jones said.

He added that it wasn’t just what got mentioned during a governor’s State of the State address that was pertinent; it was also what did not merit a mention on that platform.

Jones wondered whether Abbott would draw attention to legislation allowing handguns to be carried openly, or in-state tuition for immigrants, or whether he would set a tone by not mentioning them at all.