Governor Greg Abbott was in Grayson County Saturday night to give area residents an update on last year’s legislative session. Abbott was the keynote speaker for the Grayson County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner fundraiser.

While Abbott has previously spoken for the organization in the past, this was the first time he did so as governor.

“Everyone in this room agrees that we have God-given rights to chart our own course in the United States of America,” Abbott said.

During his keynote, Abbott spoke on the accomplishments of the latest legislature and recent bills that he had signed into law over the last year. These topics ranged from increased border control to measures aimed at limiting the tax burden on homeowners.

As a part of the last session, Texas lawmakers allocated just under $1 billion toward security along the Texas-Mexico border. This comes in the form of Department of Public Safety officers, cameras and vehicles, among other equipment and investments. This expanded in June when Abbott deployed 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the border to augment DPS manpower.

“Texas cannot fix this alone,” Abbott said. “We need congress to fix a broken immigration system and we need congress to step up and secure our border.”

Abbott also lauded local lawmakers for their efforts in passing wide-spread tax reforms this past session. Among other changes were limited the amount of additional revenue municipalities could generate over the previous year. Abbott focused on school districts, which often make up the largest portion of a property owner’s taxes.

On average, this session’s legislation cut school-related taxes by 7 percent across the state. Locally, Denison Independent School District lowered its tax rate by 6.8 percent.

“At the same time we were cutting those property taxes, in turn, Texas pour more money back into our schools, Abbott said, noting that the state spent an addition $5 billion on schools this year. “That included a much-needed pay raise for our teachers.”

In addition to providing more funding for schools, Abbott said he passed a law this year that promoted workforce development through apprenticeship programs and alternatives to a four-year degree. With the current job market, there are worthwhile jobs out there that do not require a college degree, the governor said.

“You’ve heard before that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work,”Abbott said. “The same is true for business, or politics or education. We need to realize it isn’t right to expect and demand every child go to a four-year college.”

Michael Hutchins is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at