Stay Alert; It’s #txlege Time

//Stay Alert; It’s #txlege Time

It’s time to stay alert and get engaged – at every level of government. While the shifting climate in Washington is grabbing the headlines, the Texas Legislature kicks off its every-other-year session this week to enact policies that will impact the lives of every Texan and the future of our great state. The stakes for our fellow Texans couldn’t be higher.

On a family hike last weekend during a rare hard freeze in Austin, I saw these beautiful icicles along Bull Creek. Let’s hope those icicles don’t become a metaphor img_4258to freeze out more Texans from the prosperity of our great state. The fact is, too many Texans are working full-time but are still unable to make ends meet. Public policies at all levels of government can either expand or limit opportunity, so we all need to stay engaged. CPPP is excited about working with our many partners and allies to advance fact-based policies that will help all Texans succeed.

In Washington, threats to our landmark health care system, public education and civil rights are on the horizon. At CPPP, we’ll let you know what those threats mean for Texans. Uncertainty at the federal level makes Texas leaders’ decisions all the more important. At CPPP, we’ll work with lawmakers from both parties to advance common-sense policy solutions that work.

What can you expect from our policy wonks this legislative session? Here are three of our top priorities.

  1. First, we will work with legislators to protect and expand access to affordable health care. Educating affected Texans and decision-makers on the potential harm from proposed cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the state Capitol and in Washington is critically important. Sweeping changes have been proposed that threaten to end health coverage for a million Texans, and would cut benefits for many millions more. State and federal decisions may also force more Texas hospitals to close, killing jobs and jeopardizing Texans’ lives when they need care the most.
  1. Second, we’ll work to improve the way we fund public schools so all Texas children get a quality education. Our school finance system is badly in need of a remodel. We haven’t updated key elements of the school funding formulas in over 30 years. That’s why CPPP is building a computer model that will show the impact of specific school finance proposals for each school district in Texas. We will also expose the dangers of diverting public school funding to voucher programs, which are out of reach for most low-income and rural families.
  1. Finally, we will encourage public investments that secure a strong future for Texas. Yesterday’s state comptroller’s revenue forecast predicted that Texas won’t have sufficient funds to maintain even the current level of services. To avoid drastic cuts to education and health care, we will make the case for using part of the Rainy Day Fund. That’s what it’s there for, and it’s estimated to have almost $12 billion by the end of 2019. And especially with less state revenue, we’ll fight state interference that would limit the ability of cities and counties to collect the revenue they need to support our law enforcement, health, roadways and other services we all rely on.

Check out our full list of policy priorities here.

We’re grateful that state leaders from both parties have identified important policy priorities to improve public schools, strengthen child protective services, and fix our mental health system. We look forward to working with them to build the best Texas – a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all.

Unfortunately, instead of focusing on priorities that help hardworking Texas families, some of our state leaders are pushing misguided priorities that target immigrants, discriminate against LGBTQ Texans, and make it harder for local governments to provide police, fire and paramedic coverage to our communities. CPPP stands ready to speak truth to power, and to lock arms with Texans of all backgrounds who make our great state strong.

It will be a busy session, and we’ll do our part to keep you updated and engaged with a weekly legislative e-newsletter, timely Twitter and Facebook posts, videos, research, events and more. Let’s get to work!

A renowned social justice lawyer, former philanthropy executive, and frequent public speaker and writer, Ann Beeson joined the Center in 2013. She was previously the Executive Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, where she promoted human rights, justice, and accountability nationwide. Beeson was the national Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked from 1995-2007. She argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, litigated numerous cases around the country, and launched groundbreaking programs to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security and to protect free speech and privacy on the Internet. Beeson has been recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers by American Lawyer Magazine and the National Law Journal. A proud Texan, Beeson has embraced a wide range of innovative strategies to advance social change. Before joining the Center, she launched a new non-profit to involve the creative sector in social change. In 2012-13, she was a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas, where she co-produced a public media series to inspire more people to get engaged in their communities. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas. Beeson obtained her law degree from Emory University School of Law, and served as law clerk to the Honorable Barefoot Sanders, then chief judge of the Northern District of Texas.

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