Local Concerns About Texas Legislative Session

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Before the Texas Legislative session convenes on Tuesday, local governments and organizations had the opportunity to voice their concerns to legislators.

Topping their list was funding for Texas A&M University and tax and appraisal caps.

"We've never had it any better," Senator Steve Ogden said. "This is the best it's been in my memory."

State legislators will have more money to work with than in recent years, and Senator Ogden says he's ready to get to work.

"I'll try to make the best decision I can on behalf of the people we all represent."

Before the gavel is struck on Tuesday, local lawmakers had their say on what they'd like to see happen in Austin.
The tax and appraisal cap was one of the major talking points.

"I don't know where we would have gotten the money if we would have been under revenue caps and appraisal caps," Brazos County Judge Randy Sims said. "It cost Brazos County quite a bit of revenue or money that we had to spend on these refugees and people that were displaced by the hurricanes."

A law currently exists to cap taxes and appraisal values, and local governments believe there is no need for additional restriction because a cap would hurt citizens by limiting resources.

Ogden says in the past he's put school finance at the forefront.
Now he'll address this issue and says the people should have a say.

"In general I don't mind asking the people it's their money, it's their government," Ogden said.

Texas A&M University was another top issue.
Texas A&M officials say funding is needed for the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center and for the faculty reinvestment program.

"Our request to the legislature relates to hiring more faculty which means more folks moving to the Brazos Valley that buy more things, and add more economic development to the region," Michael O'Quinn with Texas A&M University said.

Transportation, healthcare, and the need for more jails also were hot topics during the discussion.
Ogden says there is money for additional jails, but the debate will be whether to build or prevent.

"I think you can look forward to substantially increased funding for mental health and rehabilitation programs this time around," Ogden said.