On Saturday, thousands of Texas school teachers and supporters of public education are expected to gather at the steps of the Capitol in Austin, and busloads of supporters are coming from San Antonio. The rally is called Save Texas Schools, and the goal is to convince the legislature and Governor Rick Perry to put back the billions of dollars that were cut from the public schools.
San Antonio State Representative Mike Villarreal is one of the rally’s organizers and speakers.
According to State Comptroller Susan Combs, Texas lawmakers will have will have $101.4 billion to work with during the next legislative session. Combs said the estimated $96 billion in revenue from taxes, fees and other sources is up nearly $20 billion from previous years.
"General revenue collections in 2008 and 2009 -- leading into the [legislative] session -- totaled $79.6 billion," Combs said. "In 2010 - 2011, as we hit bottom and began to climb out the revenues were $4.5 billion less."
Two Bexar County lawmakers are gearing up for their days in Austin – to craft a budget and shape new laws for Texas. Republican Representative Lyle Larson of District 122 is on a mission to keep the state on a conservative course. Democrat Representative Mike Villarreal of District 123 is going to Austin in the political minority, but still looking to be a major part of the legislative process.
Democratic State Rep. Mike Villarreal filed legislation HB 238, which if passed would amend the Texas Labor Code to provide equal employment protections for gay and transgender employees.
"My question is," said Villareal: "Is this person showing up on time and doing their job? If they are, then they should be treated no differently than anybody else. Unfortunately, the LBGT community doesn't have the same protections in the state of Texas that they enjoy in other states."