About two weeks after the third special session of the Texas Legislature adjourned, state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, announced Aug. 22 he will seek re-election in 2014 to his District 54 seat.
The last time there were three straight special sessions was in 1959, Aycock said.
At the legislative update and luncheon at St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church Parish Center, Aycock highlighted the state budget, water access and House Bill 5, which reduces the number of standardized tests in public schools and promotes vocational education. While students continue to graduate from four-year colleges, vocational technical schools have disappeared, he said.
“We finally got done the things we ought to get done,” Aycock said.
Texas has $103 billion in its budget, about 70 percent of which is distributed to the Department of Health and Human Services and public education, Aycock said. The entire budget grows about 2.7 percent a year.
“Education has always been the huge driver of the state budget, and public health was right behind that,” he said.
With today’s strong emphasis on higher education, Texas hospitals have a scarcity of support employees, such as X-ray technicians.
“The jobs (college graduates are) best-trained for are not necessarily the jobs we need,” Aycock said. “We’ve got to find an education strategy that says these folks can get a job before they get out of high school.”
Killeen Independent School District Board Member Shelley Wells expressed her support for House Bill 5, which Aycock authored. “That’s the best thing anyone could’ve done for public education, so I wanted to thank you in public,” she said.
Union State Bank CEO Coleen Beck praised Aycock’s negotiation skills.
“He has the philosophy and gut of the people,” she said.
“This is the big one and it’s complicated,” Aycock said of water needs throughout the state.
The area between Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio should be fully developed within 30 years, he said. Solid water and road infrastructure will be keys to success.
Oil and gas revenues flow into the Rainy Day Fund, he said. About $2 billion of that money would be loaned to reservoir construction and engineering, if an amendment passes.
“I hope you will support that,” he said. “Texas needs water.”
Relationship with D.C.
Emcee of the event, Jim Endicott, asked Aycock about the federal-state relationship.
“If we had one, it would be nice,” Aycock said. “Things are tense between the federal government and the state of Texas for many reasons.
“Mostly, we feel like the federal government oversteps. ... The federal government feels like we’re a thorn in their side. ... The relationship’s not too good, to tell you the truth.”