The Killeen and Belton young professionals hosted a Texas legislator for lunch and discussions on the state political process and issues Thursday.
House District 55 Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, talked about the state’s growth, infrastructure and budget issues during the luncheon. He also discussed the importance of networking as a professional.
“(Texas is) growing by some 1,500 people a day,” Sheffield said. “You’ll see that growth will continue, and to get it to continue, we need to keep money going into infrastructure.”
To keep improving infrastructure throughout the state, residents should support the Water Development Fund and a proposed transportation constitutional amendment, which will be voted on in November, he said.
The water fund, which is a $2 billion loan program for governmental entities, will continue to generate funding for infrastructure projects by constructing them, Sheffield said.
The transportation amendment would remove about $1 billion from the state’s rainy day fund.
Money removed can be used by the Texas Department of Transportation for road work and ports, helping spur exports and imports, Sheffield said.
Money from the rainy day fund should be sustainable with continued growth, because of the state’s oil and gas industry, Sheffield said.
Sheffield also answered questions about the state’s decision to opt out of the Affordable Care Act, veterans’ benefits throughout the state, immigration and other topics.
The opportunity to hear Sheffield provided the group with a chance to hear about policies that affect its members, said Lenna Barr, a Greater Killeen Young Professionals board member.
The event also was a chance to be inspired to participate in politics.
“Young professionals as a whole vote more than our peers,” Barr said. Such events allow them to stay in the know and continue participating in the process.
Sheffield also offered some advice.
As a restaurateur and entrepreneur, Sheffield said participating in chambers of commerce and trade organizations paid dividends for him.
“Keep your involvement in organizations and so forth because you never know who is going to give you your next opportunity,” Sheffield said.