This evening, we’ll hear from Texas’ highest-ranking public servant—our governor—on the state of the state. This speech is intended to give the people an overview of our state’s financial reality, what’s to come from underneath the dome this legislative session, and the governor’s priorities for the future.
In his 2021 address (he skipped 2022), Gov. Greg Abbott claimed our state was “brimming with promise” while COVID-19 continued to ravage our communities, his attorney general was under investigation by the Texas bar association for attempts to overturn 2020’s free and fair election, and his right-wing legislature passed a dangerously vague anti-race bill that gutted the ability of our public schools to teach the truth about our past so that our kids can build a better future.
We’re not sure how a man who is so far removed from the real state of our state will give a substantive State of the State address, but considering his track record, we expect more glossy platitudes—and outright lies—during this year’s tactless display.
If we had a magic 8 ball, we’d predict a State of the State with the following agenda:
Public education will be the culture war battleground
Abbott will keep pushing voucher schemes that steal tax dollars from our neighborhood schools. Of course, this serves the religious right’s agenda to decimate public education and subvert state curriculum requirements by subsidizing the unregulated private education of kids from wealthy backgrounds. Millions of everyday Texas families will then be left with two impossible choices: Send your kid to a public school that’s even less funded than before (that’s if your neighborhood school can keep its doors open) or find a way to pay the difference for private school tuition since voucher programs won’t cover the entire cost.
LGBTQIA+ Texans will be under constant attack
In a twist of predictable cruelty, he’ll use his platform to double down on hateful rhetoric against LGBTQIA+ children, adults, and families. He’ll promise to bar transgender college athletes from playing on teams that align with their gender identity and in the sport that they’ve dedicated their time and talent to for most of their young lives.
Yet again, we’ll hear more calls to punish loving families who help their children receive lifesaving gender-affirming care, and Abbott will undoubtedly express his fervent support for bills that designate that care as child abuse while ignoring the real harm it causes to our youth.
And maybe, as a bonus, he’ll mention his party’s plans to go after drag queens for reading books to kids at public libraries.
Speaking of the kids, we can be sure he’ll willfully ignore the gun violence that’s become the nation’s leading cause of death for children while he touts concern for their safety.
Abbott won’t stop at banning abortion
Even with abortion inaccessible in Texas, stigmatizing language and horrifying promises to further control our bodies will be center stage. We fully expect Abbott to echo his party’s plans to go after district attorneys who refuse to criminalize Texans for their pregnancy outcomes while continuing to celebrate his own role in decimating our reproductive rights in Texas.
His state of the state does not have to be ours.
While turning the clock backward with his agenda of hate might be the state of Abbott’s Texas, it’s not the state of ours.
Here’s the State of the State according to us:
Young people continue to make up more and more of Texas’ voter population each year, and across the country, the 2022 midterm election had the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades.
While the youth vote is growing in strength, we know that the fight for abortion rights drove them to the ballot box this year. No matter what Abbott has to say today, we also know that the majority of Texas voters support access to abortion, and we’ve already seen proof at the ballot box.
One great example of our power to create change is a recent victory we saw in El Paso
Last year, El Paso’s city council failed to pass protections for abortion seekers. Then came the 2022 election. Our own youth-led program, Texas Rising, turned out the vote for pro-choice candidates, and those candidates won. Just last month, the new city council passed the GRACE Act, which prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to criminalize El Pasoans for their pregnancy decisions and outcomes. This is the power of elections—the power of you.
We have more lawmakers from diverse backgrounds than ever before
While our progressive champions did not win statewide offices, we did succeed in electing three openly gay Black members to the Legislature, along with the first two Muslim lawmakers to ever serve at the Texas Capitol.
We have made it abundantly clear that Texas is worth fighting for and we are ready for change. In a state so gerrymandered as Texas, we refuse to let the people in power manipulate us into thinking we are alone.
The state of our state is that we deserve better, and we’re not afraid to fight for it
As this legislative session continues to ramp up, we have to remember that our desire for progress, our need for hope, and our fight for every Texan to be represented and cared for in the halls of government is shared by most Texans—even in the face of a loud, extremist minority.
Now that we’re in session, we have until May to become champions for progress, share our stories, and take action! We need you by our side. You can join us at the Capitol next month for “Gone to Texas Lege” Advocacy Day on March 28, and we’ve got more ways to get involved this session at tfn.org/lege!
Before we go, we’ve got one more prediction from our magic 8 ball:
Your hope will ignite change and inspire your community to create a better future for every single Texan. And remember, our collective power holds more strength than politicians who traffic in hate could ever imagine.
Together, we can fight for a better state of the state.