Myra Crownover / Guest Column

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More work to be done

Strong conservative fiscal principles and low taxes have made Texas the economic envy of the nation.Our unemployment has dropped, new businesses are locating here and tax revenues are higher than anticipated.

Texas is blessed with many natural assets including substantial oil and gas tax revenues. This has allowed us to build great universities and hospitals and fund the services required of a large, modern state without an income tax.

Fiscally responsible governance has led to a strong economy that is attracting people to Texas.

From 2000 to 2010, Texas’ population grew by more than 4.2 million people, and by 2030 we are expected to add another 7 million people. This level of growth brings with it prosperity for our state as well as challenges.

As we confront these challenges in 2013, I will be guided by three basic principles: 1) identify and focus on the core functions of government; 2) anticipate and prepare Texans for the challenges of the next 20 years; and 3) respect the taxpayer.

Public education has always been a core function of our government and remains our highest priority. In 2011, budget restraints caused by the recession and lower tax revenues forced legislators to make some tough and unpopular decisions.

Our focus during the upcoming session will be to write a budget that adequately and equitably addresses enrollment growth in public and higher education.

A consensus is also building among members to de-emphasize the seemingly singular focus of standardized testing in our classrooms. Assessment and accountability have a place in our system, but we need to strike a balance, find a common-sense approach that doesn’t undermine the joy of teaching and learning.

Health and Human Services spending, driven by exploding Medicaid costs, is threatening our ability to properly fund other core functions of state government.

Medicaid expenditures account for 23 percent of the appropriated budget in 2012-13. In 2011, we enacted $1.8 billion in cost saving measures for Medicaid, but without substantial reform at the federal level the Texas budget will continue to be strained by Medicaid costs.

We will continue to urge the federal government to give us the freedom to deliver necessary medical services in a more innovative and efficient manner.

Business is attracted to areas with sensible regulation and a low tax burden, but they also seek well-maintained roads, reliable power and an adequate water supply.

If Texas is to continue to grow and prosper, we must address these infrastructure needs. Population growth and a growing economy have increased congestion, pollution and wear and tear on our highways.

Furthermore, the 2012 State Water Plan projects that demand for water will increase by 22 percent in the next 50 years, and unless we take action, the available supply of water will drop by 10 percent during the same period.

I am committed to finding common sense and fiscally sound solutions to address Texas’ infrastructure needs for the coming years.

Fiscal responsibility requires more than a balanced budget. The debt we pass on to our children is not measured simply in dollars and cents.

It is imperative that we also pass along well-maintained roads and bridges, reliable energy and water and, most importantly, a well-educated workforce prepared for the 21st century global economy.

REP. MYRA CROWNOVER has represented District 64 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2000. House District 64 includes Denton, Lake Dallas, Corinth, Shady Shores, Hickory Creek, Krum, and the northwest part of Denton County.

 


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