01 August 2017

Editorial: Education a Prominent Session Theme

Lufkin Daily News

By TRENT ASHBY/Contributing writer

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss a number of issues that the Legislature hopes to address during the special session. Our conversation focused primarily on one of the more prominent themes in the Legislature this special session — education. The discussion was productive, and I appreciate him seeking input from me on a number of important issues facing our state, including legislation that I’m carrying for retired teachers.

Committee hearings. The Texas House went back to work this week, as we convened in our respective committees to deliberate and hear public testimony on various pieces of legislation that pertain to the governor’s special session call.

The House Natural Resources committee had its first meeting of the special session to discuss current water conditions in Texas. We welcomed representatives from the Texas Water Development Board, who provided a comprehensive update on Texas’ current drought conditions and its effect on water inventories statewide.

I always appreciate these types of discussions because it allows me to monitor the conversation regarding water in Texas, while also providing me the opportunity to ensure that the water rights in East Texas are protected. As the special session continues, I look forward to working with my colleagues on this committee to discuss new and innovative water shortage solutions in Texas that move our state forward, while protecting the interests of our region.

The House Appropriations Committee also met recently to consider a number of bills. The majority of this legislation concerned pay raises, bonuses and reductions to health care costs for our education community. As always, I have been a vocal proponent for adequacy and equity as it pertains to funding our public schools. Furthermore, I was pleased to see that the proposals put forth do not hamstring local school boards with unfunded mandates, but rather take a more thoughtful approach by providing additional state funding.

Another topic of conversation for the House’s budget writing committee regarded a limit on the growth that could be realized by the state budget from one session to the next.

While I support any measure aimed at maintaining fiscal responsibility, I also want to make clear that this is a long-standing practice that the Texas House has maintained throughout my time in office. Whether appropriating increased infrastructure dollars to build and maintain roads, cutting back on unnecessary funding for administrative red-tape, or crafting a robust budget to fund public schools, you can be certain that I will maintain strict fiscal discipline when spending your hard-earned tax dollars.

Reminders. The mobile office is back on the road in August and looks forward to seeing you around the district. Here’s this month’s schedule: 9-11 a.m. Wednesday at the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville, or from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Madison County Courthouse Annex in Madisonville; 9-11 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Houston County Courthouse in Crockett, or from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton; and 9-11 a.m. Aug. 23 at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine.

Trent Ashby is the state representative for District 57 that includes Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine and Trinity counties. His email address is trent.ashby@house.state.tx.us. He and his staff are available during the week at (512) 463-0508 or 634-2762.

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