HARKER HEIGHTS — In front of about 60 local stakeholders, District 54 State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, announced on Thursday he will seek re-election in 2014.

At the legislative update and luncheon at St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church Parish Center, Aycock highlighted the state budget, water access and the House Bill 5 he authored, 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.

“It’s getting really difficult to find people who can do things with their hands,” Aycock said. “The medical field is screaming for people who don’t necessarily have four-year degrees.”

He said some Texas hospitals have a scarcity of support employees, such as X-ray technicians.

He also alluded to college graduates who wait tables in Austin.

“The jobs they’re 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.”

While Aycock said he supports charter schools, he lauded a provision in the bill that gives the state a clear mandate to close those that underperform.

Killeen Independent School District Board Member Shelley Wells expressed her support for the bill.

“That’s the best thing anyone could’ve done for public education,” she said.

Water needs

“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.”

Budget distribution

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.

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.”

Contact Brian Bradley at bbradley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567

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