AUSTIN, Texas — Guns, tax cuts and border security: new Republican Gov. Greg Abbott made those priorities his first six months on the job, and after the Texas Legislature ends Monday, he'll claim plenty of victories.
But not everyone is going home happy.
Democrats are bemoaning billions of dollars left unspent, tea party groups grumble that an overwhelming Republican majority wasn't conservative enough and frustrated university leaders resigned themselves to gun-packing students in their classrooms.
Abbott will mark the last day by publicly signing a bill that legalizes cannabis oil for epilepsy patients — which marijuana supporters consider a milestone in Texas, where proposals to even slightly relax pot laws have long been rebuffed.
Also on the way to Abbott's desk is a bill to legalize concealed handguns in college classrooms. It was the last major legislation approved by the House on Sunday and came over the objection of University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, the former Navy SEAL who directed the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
"While it is not what we had hoped for, I respect the Legislature's decision," McRaven said.
Allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms, known as "campus carry," had repeatedly stalled under Republican majorities in Texas since a student killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. But last-minute concessions that give skittish university leaders leeway to carve out "gun-free zones" finally won the support to push the bill through.
Guns brought into college classrooms must remain out of sight. But most everywhere else in Texas, openly carrying a holstered gun in public will become legal in September, another measure approved this session.
"The men and women of Texas who carry have been waiting to go to classrooms, but we have been asking them to put their weapons up," said Republican state Rep. Allen Fletcher, a former Houston police officer who sponsored the bill.
Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law, which won't take effect on campuses until fall 2016.
The final hours Monday are mostly ceremonial, and unlike the previous 14 years under Rick Perry, lawmakers aren't being marched into a special summer session to duke out contentious issues such as immigration and abortion.
Loosening gun restrictions gives newcomers Abbott and Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the powerful Senate leader who used big-money donors as a private sounding board for legislation, the bragging rights of succeeding where their predecessors failed. But it also provided extra cover with tea party voters who helped put them in office.
Republicans will leave Austin with a long list of conservative victories: the biggest Texas tax cuts in a decade, doubling spending on security at the border with Mexico and weakening the power of judges and public corruption prosecutors in liberal Travis County.
But other proposed crackdowns on immigration went nowhere, and efforts to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if gay marriage is legalized this summer fizzled. Both were craved by the most conservative bloc of Republican voters and lawmakers but drew defiance from outnumbered Democrats and business groups.
Watching those hot-button issues wither was of little consolation to Democrats, whose party was whipped on Election Day last November and then further pushed to the sidelines.
Health care was practically a nonissue and public schools only received a small bump in funding. When Abbott made boosting pre-K his first education initiative and dangled an extra $130 million in front of schools — far less than what Texas cut from pre-K in 2011 while slashing the state budget to the bone — Democrats considered that figure as a starting point.
Instead, the bottom line never budged.
"Certainly the funds are there for a variety of those things. But the political will wasn't there," said Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner, who ran Wendy Davis' failed run for governor last year.
Abbott wields line-item veto power over the budget. The last time Texas had a new governor, Perry stunned lawmakers by vetoing dozens of bills in a show of power, though Abbott's political style is more reserved than the bravado of his predecessor.
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