A new poll from UT/Texas Politics Project Poll reveals that Texas voters have a dim view of the legislature’s responsiveness and low expectations of the impact of lawmakers’ actions.
When asked at the conclusion of the regular session whether the legislature had “made the lives of Texans like you better, made the lives of Texans like you worse, or had no impact on the lives of Texans like you,” only 5% said the legislature had made their lives “a lot better,” while 3 in 10 expected the legislature to have made Texans’ lives “somewhat worse” (16%) or “a lot worse (14%).
According to the poll, the most striking examples of public skepticism toward legislative efforts were in response to issues voters identified as urgent in Texas Politics Project Polling conducted earlier in the legislative session: property tax reduction, the reliability of the electric grid, and school safety.
Education Reform, Infighting, and Gov. Abbott
According to February UT/TXPP polling, Texans’ top priorities regarding education reform, school safety, and teacher pay, went largely unaddressed.
Texas school teachers remain one of the few state employees who failed to receive a pay raise this session – thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott’s sole priority: vouchers.
And while the establishment of a “school choice program” has received support in UT/TXPP pollings, it has never been at the top of the priority list for Texans.
Texas lawmakers engaged in a contentious struggle between chambers, ultimately resulting in the failure to pass significant education funding bills. While this deadlock effectively put an end to the controversial vouchers initiative, it also adversely impacted teacher compensation.
The Senate refused to negotiate with the House on their priority education funding bill, making it clear it had to be “universal ESA or nothing.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has already promised to call a special session to address school vouchers, educational savings accounts, or some other type of school choice legislation. It remains uncertain whether education funding bills will also be included in the agenda.
So far, the House and Senate have demonstrated their reluctance to find common ground – not only on school choice.
Despite a month of deliberations, the House and Senate have been unable to reach a consensus on property tax matters, leaving Governor Abbott with the likely prospect of summoning lawmakers once again, with no certainty regarding their attendance.
Texas’ inaugural special session was recently likened to “a legislative Vietnam” by The Quorum Report.
As we move further into the summer, the question remains: Will the Capitol infighting among lawmakers persist?