Part 1 in a 2 Part Series
The age old saying is true. The older you get, the faster time goes by. Every now and then I look at my two beautiful daughters and I recognize that it wasn’t that long ago that they fit comfortably in my arms. Now my oldest is finishing up middle school and getting ready to start high school. Likewise, it seems like yesterday I walked into the state Capitol as your newly elected State Representative. Now, I am preparing to start my fourth term in office.
As I sit and reflect on what we have accomplished for this state in just six short years, it makes me proud of the path Texas is on and optimistic about our ability to continue to effectively address critical issues facing this state. While I understand that there is still much to be done, which I will cover in my editorial next month, allow me to share with you a few highlights of what has been done in Texas in recent years.
No two words may better describe the legislature during my tenure than fiscal responsibility. For four consecutive years now, Texas has actually reduced state spending. Most recently, state lawmakers cut over $15 billion out of the state budget. At the same time, we have grown our Rainy Day fund and actually reduced taxes. When I first took office, the small business exemption to the margins tax was only $300,000. Now that exemption is $1 million, effectively taking thousands of small businesses off of the tax rolls. At the same time, we are putting more of our financial resources where they matter the most. Public education funding has become a larger piece of the overall budget than it was when I first took office, and Texas is investing more dollars in border security, to name a couple of key priorities.
Educating our Children
No responsibility is greater to me than that of providing sound education systems for our children. That is why I take great pride in knowing that our high school dropout rate has decreased as a result of innovative preventive programs that were enacted during my first term in office. In addition to increasing the state’s share of public education funding, we have also given school districts more local control on how to invest those dollars. Lawmakers have also put Texas on the rapid path to attaining another Tier 1 university and we re-created the Texas Tomorrow Fund so that parents can lock in today’s tuition rates for their children’s future college educations.
Improving Private Property Rights and Appraisal Reform
Quite possibly, no accomplishment derives more pride in a person than having something tangible that you can call your own. That is why, in addition to buying down property taxes, over the course of recent legislative sessions lawmakers have strengthened private property rights by rewriting eminent domain laws to severely restrict its use. We have also revamped our appraisal system to ensure that uniform standards are used across the state.
Protecting Basic Human Rights
When I hear the term basic human rights, two concepts come straight to my mind, the right to life and our 2nd amendment right to possess firearms. In recent history, the legislature has made great strides on both fronts. We have enacted our Castle Doctrine law, which gives Texans the full ability to protect their life and property from an unlawful intruder. Also, lawmakers authorized individuals to keep their concealed weapons locked safely in their cars while at work so that this basic level of personal protection could be immediately available to them at the conclusion of the work day if ever necessary.
At the same time, state lawmakers have strengthened our commitment to the unborn by creating the “Chose Life” license plate public awareness program and adopting our sonogram law that ensures a mother will have full information about the life of her unborn child before considering an abortion.
Texas has also recently seen victories on the election integrity and tort reform fronts. As well as making our sales tax holiday weekend more encompassing and accessible to back to school shoppers. I am proud of how far we have come in such short time, but I know that critical challenges lie ahead. I look forward to addressing those challenges next session and please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office at 512.463.0688 or by e-mail at [email protected] if I can ever be of service.