Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Phelan and surplus

Representative Phelan of Beaumont has shown courage in presiding over the Texas House of Representatives as speaker and should be commended for it. Over objection of a handful of extremists he has included members of both parties in leadership positions to attack problems facing the state of Texas.

A former speaker, Joe Straus, from San Antonio followed the same practice using both Republicans and Democrats in strategies to address problems facing the state. His tenure as speaker was not only quiet but productive in the legislation it produced.

The most important issues to be addressed in the current session is preservation and improvement of our public schools. Clearly, the basis upon which this problem stands is funding. While we are fortunate to have a positive balance in our treasury, there are those who would forfeit this opportunity by schemes such as vouchers for private schools. Vouchers are normally used to take approximately $7,000 for each student away from the local school where that student resides. This is a classic example of ignoring the poor and helping the wealthy. With school teachers leaving the profession at an alarming rate, now is not the time to short-change our public education system.

A healthy pay raise, which at this time we can afford, would be helpful to retain and attract teachers but also improve the lot of our public school system throughout the state.

Another shortage facing us as Texans for which part of the surplus could be used is one of health care, particularly in areas like Jefferson and Orange Counties. In the classifications used to distribute medical type funding, Jefferson and Orange Counties are not considered urban districts and do not rank at the top of the line for such benefits. There are things, however, we could do for ourselves. I know of no other area that has three state institutions like those of Lamar, training and producing nursing students. It would be to our great benefit if we could get well enough organized to offer free scholarships to those nursing students who agree that they would spend a certain period of time locally after their graduation and licensing.

I am certainly ready to pitch in my $100 to such a program.


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