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Governor-Elect Abbott Brings Agenda To North Texas

Bill Zeeble
Texas Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott, center, is surrounded by North Texas Legislators in Arlington Tuesday.

Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott was in Arlington Tuesday to talk with local lawmakers about his priorities heading into his new job and the January legislative session.

Education is Abbott's top priority, with a push for more pre-k funding, and nationally-ranked universities.

“When we work together, working to genuinely build the pathway for a stronger Texas in one or two decades, we recognize that pathway is likely going to be going through our school house doors every day," Abbott said.

Abbott’s other priorities include improved transportation and more border security dollars --  $300 million -- along with hundreds more officers.

State Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat, shares Abbott’s broad priorities. But he’d like more money for pre-k education than Abbott wants to spend. West says that’s where legislative trade-offs might play a role.

“There’s always a deal to be made during the legislative process,” West said. “You don’t pre-judge anything. Pre-k is an initiative on his agenda. We’ll be able to negotiate a deal during the legislative session that I think will be beneficial to the citizens of the state of Texas.”

Republican State Rep. Kenneth Sheets was happy to leave Abbott’s pre-k plan alone. It would add $1,500 per student to programs that improve their quality by meeting new state standards.

“The other key aspect of the governor-elect’s plan is making sure we’re focusing on those economically challenged areas where we’re seeing the kids really do need help,” Sheets said.

While acknowledging policy differences with Abbott, Democratic State Rep. Helen Giddings welcomed his visit to Arlington and the North Texas legislative delegation.

“This early in the game it’s unprecedented for the governor-elect, or even the governor, to come and visit with groups such as this,” Giddings said.

Abbott’s inauguration takes place Jan. 20. By then, the 84th Texas Legislature will have been in session a week.