State Rep. Dan Huberty discussed the effects of virtual learning on standardized test scores as much of the state saw significant declines in 2021 English and math assessments at Partnership Lake Houston’s State of the State luncheon June 30.

Along with public education, Huberty spoke on Texas’ unprecedented 87th legislative session, touching on topics from flooding to energy infrastructure legislation. Gov. Greg Abbott signed over 1,000 bills into law in this legislative session.

“Going into the legislative session, we all thought it was going to be a disaster. In fact, we knew we were going to have problems. We knew there were going to be all kinds of issues and problems that erupted,” Huberty said. “ I was very surprised, this legislative session, there were so many bills that were passed.”

STAAR scores and education legislation

In late June, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness benchmark, or STAAR test, released its results. The percentage of students who passed exams was lower in almost every subject in spring 2021 compared to the last time the state administered STAAR tests in spring 2019, according to previous reporting by Community Impact Newspaper.

“And that is what this online education did,” Huberty said. “Humble outperformed many of the districts in the Houston area because they had their kids back in the classroom.”

Throughout the pandemic, Huberty said the federal government sent about $16 billion to school districts without strings attached. He said he spoke with the federal government about creating accountability metrics, but they decided not to make any.

“Hopefully, you'll be smart with it. And you'll do something for remediation,” Huberty said. “I think that's important.”

Huberty also sponsored House Bill 1525, which passed during the legislative session, allowing the state to maintain teacher salaries, increase the state contribution for retired teachers, and refunded dyslexia and autism grants programs.

Energy reform

And as energy officials called for energy conservation in June, Huberty said the state needs to incentivize businesses to come to Texas and build out additional generation units. Huberty hopes to address this in the special legislative session that begins July 8.

“We're burning about 79,000 megawatts. That's the capacity that we have,” Huberty said. “And you're always going to have plants that go down. So, you know, when we think about the capacity issues that we had, we were down 20,000 megawatts when we were doing the rolling blackouts [during Winter Storm Uri]. That's a significant problem in businesses that rely on that manufacturing.”

During the legislative session, Huberty worked to create a dredging district in Lake Houston to prevent flooding but could not get the bill through the Senate.

“But, one of the shiny things that did happen, just like we did in 2019, where we got $30 million for additional dredging, I was able to secure $50 million working with Senator Reagan's office to advance dredging,” Huberty said. “It's important to note the dredging is still happening on Lake Houston. And this additional $50 million was dedicated directly to the city of Houston.”