|1/9/2013 4:17:00 PM|
Priorities for the 83rd Legislative Session
State Representative JM LozanoOn Tuesday, the State Legislature gathered in Austin to take the oath of office and meet for the first time as the 83rd Legislature. Both the Texas House of Representatives, of which I am a Member, and the Texas State Senate meet every other year for 140 days to make and pass laws. From now through May, we will put together a budget and address issues most important to South Texans: Education, Transportation, Taxes and many others.
The Opening Day of the Legislature is mostly ceremonial and I was so fortunate to be joined by my family and many friends and family from Bee, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Jim Wells and San Patricio Counties. I was even joined by a group from Alice High School and their sponsor, Mr. Gates. Yet, the ceremony doesn't last long. Texas is a state with 26 million people and a number of pressing issues.
Perhaps the best news about our state is the strength of our economy. According to the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the economy is expected to grow over the next two years. Even better, our state has recovered all jobs lost in the recession, added 258,000 jobs and will gain an additional 500,000 more jobs over the next two fiscal years. All of this has helped improve the budget outlook, allowing us more money for education and other priorities.
In a state with 5 million public school children, education must be the highest priority for us in Austin, but challenges remain. Everyone agrees our public school financing system is broken, over-testing is leading to student and teacher burnout and school districts are hurting from cuts made two years ago (which I opposed). Yet, I anticipate we will act on these issues and make a concerted effort to improve public education. But education doesn't stop at 12th grade. We've got to make sure our kids are prepared for college or a career when they leave High School. I plan to support legislation that improves access to skills training so that our young men and women can get great jobs, like those in the Eagle Ford Shale.
Those of us in South Texas also know the importance of water. We have always needed it for farming and ranching, and now we need it for fracking and supporting our domestic energy production. Moreover, our booming communities need more water to support growing populations. The recent drought has led to a drop in reservoir levels and an estimated $8 billion in economic losses across the state. The issue of water will also be at the forefront of our decision-making this Session.
There is no shortage of work to done over the next 140 days and many more issues than the ones I've discussed. South Texas is uniquely placed to benefit from a thriving energy sector, a booming port, great institutions of higher education and other attributes, but not without making the right choices. I enjoy representing you in Austin and look forward to hearing your priorities.
Article Comment Submission Form