With the 2020 election finally behind us, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the fine folks of House District 57 for entrusting me to continue serving as your state representative. It is the honor of a lifetime to be your voice in Austin, and I want you to know — whether you voted for me or not — that I will work each and every day to represent our district with honesty, integrity, and humility.
With the next legislative session only a few months away, I look forward to continuing my conversations with constituents about the issues that matter most in our community to ensure that my work in Austin reflects the values and interests of House District 57.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol.
With the 87th Legislature set to convene in January 2021, it goes without saying that this legislative session will present a unique set of challenges as we continue our battle with COVID-19.
With that in mind, I want to provide you with a preview on some of the issues to give you an idea of what my colleagues and I have started preparing for as we get closer to session.
■ The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered a truth that many East Texans have known for a long time — too many Texans lack access to affordable, high-quality internet service. My office has started working with stakeholders — ranging from school superintendents to internet service providers — on legislative language that will establish a long-term plan to make meaningful investments in broadband infrastructure to expand access to thousands of Texans.
As schools, businesses and health care providers rely more heavily on the internet for goods and services, the state must meet this increase in demand by working with stakeholders to make strategic investments that will bolster our infrastructure and bridge the digital divide that exists throughout our state.
■ The pandemic also has raised concern about the state of our health care system in Texas, particularly in rural areas.
With rural hospital closures on the rise, the state must seek creative solutions to provide care to those living in rural communities. Whether expanding access to telemedicine by cutting bureaucratic red tape, partnering with institutions of higher education to encourage medical students to practice in underserved areas, or reining in the cost of health insurance — we must do more to expand access to quality health care throughout rural Texas.
■ From a budgetary perspective, declines in revenue and the low price of crude oil continue to weigh on the Texas economy and sales tax revenue.
At present, the decline in projected general revenue is around $11 billion from original estimates, which puts us on track to be in a $4.6 billion deficit by the end of the biennium in August 2021.
This will present challenges as we work to balance the state budget, but I am confident that we will once again rise to the occasion and deliver a lean and fiscally responsible budget.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at 634-2762.