Texas Public Opinion and Governor Abbott's Emergency Items for the 86th Legislature

Governor Greg Abbott delivered the state of the state speech today, and as expected declared a set of emergency items, enabling the legislature to move bills on these subjects through the legislative process more quickly. These items are school finance reform and increasing teacher pay; school safety; mental health; property tax reform (with a seeming nod toward electing tax appraisers); and disaster response.

Abbott’s emphasis on public education and reforming the property tax system largely echoed priorities already under discussion by the state’s political leaders as the legislative session has unfolded. He ended with an embrace of the seeming Era of Good Feeling that state leaders keep declaring in the Capitol in the wake of the 2018 election ("I am inspired by the comradery and collaboration that have infused this session. I feel it myself."). The causes and reality of this narrative beyond waving at the 2018 election results deserve to be examined more closely; for now, here are some touchpoints in public opinion for the emergency items that the governor has declared in his bid to set the legislative agenda.

School Finance Reform & Increasing Teacher Pay (Link to more graphics)

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Increasing the pay of public school teachers66%
Increasing opportunities for online learning66%
Reducing the number of standardized tests students must take63%
Allowing more localized control over curriculum and standards62%
Increasing funding for the public school system61%
Making it easier for charter schools to open and operate 58%
Expanding state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs54%
Creating a school voucher program49%

School Safety (Link to more graphics)

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Insufficient restrictions17%
Poor enforcement6%
Insufficient school security8%
Insufficient mental health resources14%
Poor parenting18%
Media attention6%
Drug use1%
Violence in popular culture7%
Failure to identify potential shooters8%
School building design1%

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Insufficient restrictions34%9%2%
Poor enforcement9%3%3%
Insufficient school security5%4%10%
Insufficient mental health resources17%12%12%
Poor parenting10%21%26%
Media attention5%5%8%
Drug use1%0%2%
Violence in popular culture3%12%10%
Failure to identify potential shooters5%9%12%
School building design1%2%2%

Mental health (Link to more graphics herehere, and here)

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Very satisfied7%
Somewhat satisfied28%
Not very satisfied27%
Not at all satisfied31%
Don't know/No opinion6%

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A great deal49%
A fair amount33%
Not much10%
Not at all3%
Don't know/No opinion5%

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A great deal52%43%48%
A fair amount34%26%33%
Not much9%12%11%
Not at all1%5%3%
Don't know/No opinion3%13%4%

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A great deal55%
A fair amount30%
Not much7%
Not at all3%
Don't know /No opinion5%

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A great deal54%56%59%
A fair amount33%28%27%
Not much6%7%8%
Not at all4%6%1%
Don't know /No opinion3%3%5%

Property Tax Reform (Link to more graphics)

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Strongly support48%
Somewhat support29%
Somewhat oppose7%
Strongly oppose7%
Don't know8%

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Strongly support30%54%65%
Somewhat support32%29%26%
Somewhat oppose13%3%3%
Strongly oppose12%6%2%
Don't know12%7%4%

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Strongly support37%51%59%
Somewhat support27%30%29%
Somewhat oppose10%7%3%
Strongly oppose12%5%4%
Don't know14%6%4%

Disaster Response (Link to more graphics)

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Approve strongly29%
Approve somewhat31%
Neither approve nor disapprove17%
Disapprove somewhat10%
Disapprove strongly5%
Don't know8%