Representative Ken King and Senator Charles Perry were in Levelland Tuesday afternoon for a joint town hall meeting, hosted on the SPC campus.
Senator Perry started the meeting by going over the recent legislative session. He pointed out that the legislature adopted a $251 billion budget, the largest in the history of the State of Texas. He noted $72 billion was for public education while $92 billion was for higher education. $85 billion was for health and human services and $31 billion was for transportation. After funding those main areas, it left very little for discretionary spending.
Senator Perry also noted that the interim period will be very busy, noting that he is working on the statewide flood plan and has also started work on re-redistricting. He also is working on a rural healthcare plan, noting that three communities were forced to close their rural health facilities recently. He also was glad to see funding for the Veterinarian School for Texas Tech, noting that large animal Veterinarian’s were dying faster than new ones were graduating.
Representative Ken King then addressed the crowd, noting that he appreciated the work of the legislature to pass legislation for public education funding. He noted that an education sub-committee worked to make recommendations to the full legislature. He said a total of 38 recommendations was made. He also said House Bill 3 gave teachers more money, increased funding for early childhood education and also funds students on need not based on zip code.
King also pointed out some other items that were approved by the legislature including redirecting 2604 grants which funds Volunteer Fire Departments. He noted that under the former rules of the grants, they could not be used to purchase personal protection equipment. The new regulations will allow departments to purchase personal protection equipment. The new rules will also allow applications from any department with equipment loss in any county declared a disastor by the Governor to move to the front of the line for funding. The grants will now also be able to fund repairs to equipment not just purchasing new equipment.
There were many discussions on Mental Health facilities. Senator Perry said their are many facilities in the West Texas area could be re-purposed in to mental health beds for civil commitment cases. He further pointed out that if one bed could be made available within three hours of every Sheriff ‘s office in the state, it would solve a lot of the problems surrounding civil commitments in our rural counties.