AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Republican Dade Phelan is preparing for the start of a new legislative session, and outlining his priorities as he expects to become the Speaker of the House.
Phelan announced in early November he expected to have enough votes to take on the position which presides over the Texas House of Representatives and maintains order during debates. The 87th Legislature begins its session Tuesday.
Phelan told Nexstar’s Wes Rapaport Monday morning that public education would be a top priority this year, in addition to building up the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re gonna do our best to make sure our commitment to public education is strong,” Phelan said.
“When you go look at your personal budget back home, or my personal budget in my house, or my, you know, the budget that I have in my business — whatever I spend the most money on is the most important thing,” Phelan said.. “And the most important thing here in Texas is education.”
The Speaker’s role also includes giving out committee assignments in the House. Although there is some push for him to appoint only Republicans as committee chairs, he indicted he planned to do what his predecessors have and give some assignments to Democrats as well.
“We will continue the the legacy that my predecessors have had both Republican and Democrat,” Phelan said. “When Republicans were in the minority, Democrats gave them a proportionate share of chairmanships, and then Republicans came into power, they gave Democrats proportionate share of chairmanships, and that’s not going to end.”
In his role as Speaker, Phelan would become one of the “Big Three” in Texas, which includes the governor and lieutenant governor. Phelan said he’s looking forward to getting to know Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick more over weekly breakfasts.
“I’m getting to know them,” Phelan said of Abbott and Patrick. “You know, they are they’re good people, I really respect them and they work hard.”
“We’ve had some preliminary conversations,” Phelan continued. “After tomorrow (Tuesday), we’ll have a lot more conversations and we’ll spend a lot more time together, but we’re all committed to get Texas economy back up and running.”
Phelan has represented House District 21, which includes Orange County and part of Jefferson County in Southeast Texas since 2015.