AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Bold promises for big achievements seemed to be a theme for Tuesday’s Texas inauguration celebration.
Crowds came out on the north side of the Capitol to see Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick take the oath of office.
Both leaders promised action on property tax reform — while also improving funding for public schools and teachers.
“The eyes of Texas are upon us,” Abbott said in his inaugural address. “We have the opportunity and the obligation to get this right,” he added, then promised action to pay teachers more, reform the Robin Hood school finance system and improve education for all Texas students.
“And we will do this without a court order telling us to do it!” Abbott said, drawing a round of applause from the inauguration audience.
The Governor also received a lot of applause when he promised to rein in “skyrocketing property taxes” in Texas. He listed off his ideas to fix the problem.
“Texas must limit the ability of taxing authorities to raise your taxes,” said Abbott. “At the same time, Texas must end unfunded mandates on cities and counties. And taxpayers should be given the power to fire their tax appraiser.”
Lawmakers have made limited gains on property taxes in previous sessions, but true reform of the system has not happened.
“History would imply that we can have periodic successes in bringing down property taxes or limiting its increase,” former chief revenue estimator James LeBas told lawmakers at a hearing last year. “A permanent solution that makes everybody happy may be hard to come by,” LeBas warned.
One thing that’s different this session is the display of unity from the state’s top leaders on the issues of education funding and property tax reform. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor emphasized that unity in their inauguration festivities.
The celebrations wrapped up Tuesday night with the traditional Texas Inaugural Ball. Governor Abbott called on country music legend George Strait to headline the event, but he said the decision was about more than music.
“The reason why I wanted George Strait was because of what he did for Texas after the hurricane,” Abbott told the audience as he introduced Strait at the ball. The Governor explained how Strait called his office after Hurricane Harvey hit and asked how he could help.
“We went to a parking lot of a hardware store in Rockport and there were people there who had no power, some people who had no homes,” Abbott said. “But they showed up because George Strait gave them a smile, some hope and some inspiration to rebuild their lives.”
The Governor also praised Strait for headlining a benefit concert. That show — and the telethon that accompanied the performances — Abbott said, brought in “tens of millions of dollars” for hurricane relief.
“George Strait loves Texas and Texas loves George Strait,” Abbott concluded as Strait took the stage to perform.