Members of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce received an update on the 83rd legislative session, and the special sessions that followed during a governmental affairs luncheon Wednesday.
The event at Central Texas College’s Anderson Campus Center featured guest speaker state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen.
Aycock, who serves as chairman for the House Committee on Public Education, gave chamber members an overview of the legislative session, in which Texas lawmakers set out to address issues such as education, water, budget transparency and transportation.
“The House, I feel, had some very clear objectives this session,” Aycock said.
Aycock touted the legislative body’s accomplishments, including its efforts to restore some of the $15 billion funding cut from the state budget for education, mental health and child services and other areas in the 82 legislative session.
“We had higher property revenue, and we were able to go back and fill some of those holes,” Aycock said.
Aycock also spoke about the passage of House Bill 5, which reformed the state’s standardized testing system, school accountability system and bolstered flexibility for vocational and technical education programs in Texas school districts.
“To say that public education was in turmoil is an understatement,” said John Crutchfield, the chamber’s president. “Jimmie Don did the heavy lifting, and got it done.”
The reforms, particularly those to standardized testing, were vocally supported by parents, teacher organizations and school districts.
“We heard the message loud and clear,” said Aycock, who was the bill’s author, and was largely credited with successfully shepherding HB5 through the legislative process.
Aycock also spoke about the transportation legislation currently before the Legislature, now in its second 30-day special session. Aycock described the issue as “complex” and said he doubted the legislation, which is scheduled for a vote in the House today, would pass.
“It’s a complicated issue, and there’s a plethora of proposals,” Aycock said. “There isn’t a clear consensus on that one.”
When asked about the possibility that Gov. Rick Perry would call a third, 30-day special session Aycock said it was possible, but unlikely.