Community leaders will meet today with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, hoping to put a face behind Killeen’s interests.

The luncheon, organized by the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Central Texas College, will be an opportunity for local legislators Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, and local economic leaders to press their issues before the 83rd Texas Legislature rolls around in January.

“A lot of people who have been in Austin for the Legislature don’t know about our community,” chamber president John Crutchfield said. “When they see an issue that affects us, it is really important to make that issue personal for them.”

Before Straus addresses the guests about the expected challenges for the 2013 session — the budget, expansive growth in Central Texas and funding for education — community members will have an opportunity to meet with the Republican from San Antonio.

“He comes from a military town and because we are a military community we will have a lot of common interests,” Crutchfield said.

Registration for the event has closed.

State funding for public education, which was cut by more than $5 billion during the 82nd Legislature, will likely be a sticking point for representatives of Texas A&M University-Central Texas, which has seen expansive growth in its first three years in Killeen.

Randy McCauley, university communications director, said the university is hoping to expand in order to meet the increased demand for bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the Killeen-Fort Hood area.

“Anytime we have a visitor to this area who is not familiar with us, it does a lot to show what we have to offer,” McCauley said. “We are a very diverse community that needs affordable higher education.”

The chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, which planned the event, hosts three speakers each year.

“Not only do you want to have people who are important political figures but people who are moving up the political ladder,” Crutchfield said.

The chamber president said he plans to host Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Contact Brandon Janes at or (254) 501-7552

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