By Desiree Lopez
The Texas budget, water supply, mental health, education, and transportation were among the many topics discussed at a Town Hall Meeting held on Sept. 10 in the Sundown Room in the Student Center on the campus of South Plains College in Levelland.
Among those who participated in the event were Charles Perry, state senator for District 28 and chairman of the Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs Committee, and Ken King, state representative for District 88.
Senator Perry officially designated Levelland as the City of Mosaics in Texas. Barbra Pinner, mayor of Levelland, attended the meeting to receive the proclamation.
“This (proclamation) designates the city of Levelland as the City of Mosaics in Texas, so it’s a new district, it’s a new culture… Anytime we recognize a rural city down in the capital we need to reestablish the identity. We need to make people aware of who we are and what we are out there, and that we do have some culture,” proclaimed Senator Perry.
Senator Perry represents 13 towns in 51 counties, which allows him to travel to different cities and speak. The topic he discussed mostly was the Texas budget, while doing a recap of the 86th Legislative Session.
This year’s budget was $251 billion, with $72 billion going to public education, $20 billion for community colleges, $85 billion for human services, and $31 billion for transportation. This is the largest state budget yet, and this makes Texas the 10th largest economy in the world, according to Senator Perry.
Two main items Senator Perry went into the session eager to talk about were Public School Finance Reform and Property Tax Reform. When in session, they hit these two items head on, and fortunately, they had a big enough budget to do some of the things they did. Unfortunately, two events crept up on them: Hurricane Harvey, which overflowed rivers and coastlines; and shootings, which brought public school safety to the highest concern. Because of these, the budget had to be readjusted.
Through Senate Bill 8, the idea that was agreed upon was that cities should do a watershed basin approach for the lack of water in some areas, which means that when areas near lakes and rivers flood, it is required by law to coordinate, collaborate, and work together with other cities in tandem so that one city’s solution doesn’t create a bigger problem.
Mass shootings in schools were also discussed. Senator Perry blamed unstable mental health as the cause of them.
“I will never advocate shutting down mental institutions,” says Senator Perry, “because for a lot of people, it’s their last resort.”
Representative King, who has served as a representative since 2013, and is currently running for reelection. One of his main priorities is redistricting.
He touched on public education and Senate Bill 11 during the meeting. He said that the idea that teachers should be getting paid more because they are educated and professional people came up during this legislative session. It was also discussed that the state should help students based on their needs, not by their zip code.
This past session is said to have been the most productive session yet, according to Representative King.
Senator Perry ended the Town Hall Meeting with suggesting the audience read Leviticus 26:40-45.