This past week was Budget Week at the Capitol. For nearly eighteen hours the House of Representatives met to debate House Bill 1, our version of the biennial spending plan for the State of Texas. Before adjournment at 5:40 am on Wednesday, the House considered more than 300 amendments and eventually adopted a budget that addresses the needs and priorities of our flourishing state. In my opinion, this is truly a conservative budget and I was pleased to see it pass overwhelmingly. I am proud of the work we did, and was pleased to vote for H.B. 1, which, among many other things, sends more than $2 billion to schools and an additional $1.5 billion to improve roads. Importantly, we are also funding border security and the Texas Department of Public Safety, while holding spending growth to only two percent per year, well within the spending cap. All while enjoying the highest Economic Stabilization (rainy day) Fund balance in the history of Texas!
This week we also welcomed a large group of our homefolks to the Capitol for Rusk County Days. Members of Leadership Henderson, the Henderson Area Chamber of Commerce, and other constituents from Rusk County learned more about state government after spending time with my fellow legislators and hearing presentations from Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton. I always enjoy spending time with friends from House District 11 and hearing about your issues. I encourage more of you to drop by for a visit in Austin if you get the chance.
Thursday morning I gaveled in the Higher Education Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education and Workforce Readiness; this was my first time to serve as Chairman of a committee since being elected as your State Representative. After hearing key testimony on the current state of higher education and the growing demands and expectations of our Texas workforce, my colleagues and I considered bills which address the need for an educated workforce, improved graduation rates in a timely manner and give aid to the financial hardships that can accompany higher education.
Several of my bills were voted out of other committees this week. Among these is House Bill 2505 which gives physicians another tool to combat prescription opioid/pain medicine abuse, and House Bill 615 which helps the City of Rusk obtain property for economic development. Over the next few weeks I expect to see a robust discussion on the floor of the House about these and other pieces of legislation, and I look forward to guiding them through the process to become law.