Texas’ Big City Mayors, a bipartisan coalition of mayors from major cities across the state, announced their agenda for the upcoming legislative session this morning.
“It is a great honor to be a part of the Big City Mayors coalition and to work together on areas of need throughout the entire state of Texas,” Plano Mayor John Muns said. “This complete agenda that we are proposing is really important to all of us.”
The agenda includes topics related to local governance, property tax relief, economic development, workforce and education, public health and violence prevention, and broadband infrastructure. Local governance issues focus on the protection of community-based decision-making. The group also announced support for legislation that provides property tax relief, the continuation of incentives to supplement economic development strategies, funding public schools from early childhood to higher education, commonsense firearm regulations, expanding state funding and access to mental health services, improvement of access to broadband connectivity, and the ability of all cities in Texas to participate in Texas Broadband grant programs.
“To fully fund education starting at early child development and all the way up is critical, and unfortunately that percentage of funding from the state has diminished over the last couple of decades,” said Muns. “With that funding, we are able to create those opportunities and to really have that teacher workforce much more available than it is today.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner furthered the education and tax discussion by explaining the property taxes and education breakdown. Though schools used to be funded 60% by the state and 40% by local property taxes, the current breakdown shows the state funding 39% of school costs while property taxes make up the other 61%, Turner said. Legislation to increase state funding of public school districts is supported by the coalition.
Education issues were also tied to the workforce.
“We talk about education a lot and it is important that the state fully and adequately funds education from early childhood development all the way to higher education. These are areas that we are going to need an educated workforce if we continue to prosper in the State of Texas like we have been,” Muns said. “Economic development is critical to all of us and being able to have those incentives available to every city. These incentives always include companies that want an educated workforce. If we don’t have those I guarantee those companies will move somewhere else.