Earlier this month all eyes were on Washington as President Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. Closer to home, in Austin, we continue to convene in our respective chambers and go about the work the people of Texas expect from their citizen legislators. On that note, here is an update on what's going on in Austin …
This past week, the Texas House and Senate each submitted their respective preliminary budget plans. While this is just a starting point for negotiations, the versions differ by about $8 billion, including federal funds, which reflects some stark differences in priorities between the two chambers. The proposed House budget increases state spending by less than 1 percent while not increasing any taxes. It provides for additional investments in public education, child protection, and mental health, while maintaining our state’s commitment to border security. Over the next few months, each chamber will spend countless hours hearing testimony, deliberating, and making hard decisions about how best to allocate taxpayer dollars. The ultimate goal, of course, is to produce a final budget that is balanced, fiscally responsible, and that reflects the priorities of our great state. Stay tuned.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with several groups, two of which I want to highlight. The Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership delegation invited me to visit with them about the relationship between the Texas Legislature and our state's agriculture industry. We talked about a number of issues from water and ranching to the ways in which agriculture is affected by our state's budget. Agriculture and silviculture play such a vital role in my district and having the opportunity to meet with some of our leaders in the field allows me to play a part in ensuring certain rural needs are addressed.
Additionally, I met with several representatives from the Texas Retired Teachers Association. We had a long and productive conversation about the future of TRS-Care. Knowing we are strapped for resources this biennium, and that tough decisions are going to have to be made, I reiterated my support for our active and retired teachers across our state who deserve reliable healthcare for the service they provide in educating our children.
The mobile office is back on the road in January and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here's this month's schedule: Jan. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. in Crockett at the Houston County Courthouse Annex or from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Groveton at the Trinity County Courthouse. You can also visit us on Jan. 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.