This week the Texas Senate passed a bill that I authored, SB 929, to provide home-school students the opportunity to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities. Currently, home-school students have no choice in participating in UIL activities. This legislation provides these students an equal opportunity to participate in academic and athletic competitions alongside public-school students in their attendance areas.

Throughout the session, I have also been advocating ways to meet our state’s essential long-term needs while providing tax relief, including filing legislation to eliminate longstanding diversions of funds from the state Highway fund and to phase out the state business franchise tax.

This week the Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1, a proposed Constitutional amendment that will give voters an opportunity to approve a plan to fund the state's water and transportation infrastructure and public education through a one-time use of a portion of the state's Rainy Day Fund, enabling investment in the state's future without taking on additional debt.

I supported this legislation because it gives voters the chance to directly weigh in on funding for these key areas.

The proposal would allow use of a portion of the Rainy Day Fund for:

•  $800 million for public education

•  $2 billion for long-term water projects in the State Water Plan

•  $2.9 billion for essential transportation infrastructure projects

This legislation begins to address three of the key issues we face in Texas, while ensuring that the Rainy Day Fund retains a healthy balance for future emergency needs. In education, this plan promotes a more equitable formula funding system for public schools.

Due in part to our population growth, Texas' transportation and water resources are at a critical juncture, with the state facing demand for the construction and maintenance of new roads and for long-term water resources. SJR 1 would enable construction and maintenance of highways without a tax increase and without exclusively relying on toll roads for added highway capacity. It would also allow for a one-time allocation of funds to create a dedicated account for financing projects in the State Water Plan. The account would be replenished as the loans for the water projects are repaid.

Everyone agrees these are high-priority issues that must be addressed to ensure the health and strength of our state as we move into the future, and I believe that a transparent approach approved by the voters is a good way to move forward. SJR 1, which is a major priority for many of the businesses in Senate District 8, has now moved to the Texas House for consideration.

The legislature still has the opportunity to consider legislation to reduce taxes, like the two I filed and referenced above. As we move toward the end of session, I will continue to push for tax-reducing legislation like those and others.