Developing a Responsive Agenda for Texans

January 31, 2017

By Rep. John Zerwas

This last week marked the beginning of Texas’ 2017 legislative session. I am honored to once again have the privilege of serving the citizens of District 28. It is a responsibility that I do not take for granted, and one for which I have the highest respect.

The Legislature will contend with several issues that are impacting Texans all over the state, and must do so within the confines of a compressed economy. One of the Texas Legislature’s greatest responsibilities is developing and passing a budget each session that determines how taxpayer dollars will be spent for the following two years. We must ensure that taxpayer money is spent as efficiently as possible and demand accountability from state agencies for each dollar that the Legislature appropriates. The Legislature must also ensure that the state adequately funds our priorities while at the same time working to prevent unnecessary additional burden to the taxpayer by way of increased local property taxes.

Budget reductions in certain areas may be necessary, but cuts alone are a blunt tool that, in isolation without policy change, are likely to result in unintended consequences that can negatively impact vulnerable populations. Although the state should continue to make every effort to contain costs, we should also seek ways to foster policy innovations that allow state agencies to exercise flexibility.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on the issues that are important to Texans, such as mental health, reform of the foster care system, and funding of public and higher education. Although this legislative session will not be without challenges, I remain optimistic that much can and will be accomplished.

Representative John Zerwas, M.D. (R-Richmond) is serving his 6th legislative term and is a member of the Legislative Budget Board.

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