AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The 2019 Texas legislative session begins on Tuesday. It's a new year, and while the legislature is still in Republican control, Democrats picked up a dozen seats in the House and two in the Senate.
"We're really excited to have some fresh faces in the Texas Legislature and have a little bit more balance, especially in the House," said executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, Crystal Kay Perkins. "You have to get more of a consensus, and I think that's good for the people of Texas."
Regardless of party affiliation, issues we know both sides are interested in tackling are education reform, funding, and teacher pay.
"Public education is going to have to be a priority," said State Senator Carol Alvarado of Houston. "We have a lot of issues at (Houston ISD) that need to be handled in a proper way. There's going to be a lot of debate, a lot of discussion."
Alvarado, a Democrat who previously served in the State House and on Houston City Council, also said finding a way to better prepare for and respond to storms like Hurricane Harvey is atop the agenda.
For Republican Paul Bettancourt, the top issue is lowering property taxes while changing funding for education to pay teachers more and reward districts that perform well. He's hoping for bipartisan support. He thinks there's money to do both.
"We're going to be looking to integrate some tax relief, as well as some performance-based pay and other positive ideas for public education in Texas," he told ABC13 Eyewitness News.
There's a shift in Austin. It's not seismic, but it's there and it could change the way the 2019 legislative session unfolds over the next several months.
Texas Legislature to tackle big issues this session