The 84th legislative session may have ended in June, but Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, maintains his excitement calling the gathering of lawmakers, “successful.”
At the Rotary Club of Weatherford meeting on Sept. 29, King asked those attending to remain clear on the distinction between Austin and Washington.
“Don’t confuse Austin with Washington and I say that with all sincerity,” King said. “We do things completely and totally different. We’re not tied up in deadlock - we talk and work through issues.”
King said, without question, it was the most successful legislative session he has been a part of.
“One of the things our constitution requires us to do is pass a budget when we go into session,” he said. “Again we’re different than Washington, they haven’t passed a budget in seven years and are using continuing resolutions to kick the can down the road. They certainly don’t have anything that is balanced.”
He said the federal government borrows $4-6 billion everyday which accounted for the $18 trillion dollar national deficit.
King said during the session there were no new taxes authorized, that in fact there were tax cuts, $4 billion, in places like business franchise taxes, occupational taxes and fees.
“I get to work with legislators from across the country and everybody wants to be Texas,” King said. “From 2007 to 2014 Texas created 1.6 million jobs and our job growth rate is 31 times that of the national growth rate during those same years.”
He said looking back in 2008, during the recession, Texas was placed in a tremendous job deficit.
“But look at where we are today. Texas is back where it was in 2008,” King said. “But if you back Texas out of the equation, there was no recovery within the country - literally.”
King said that Texas is the top producer in the U.S. in both oil and natural gas.
“In fact we now produce more crude oil in Texas than any OPEC nation with the exception of Saudi Arabia,” he added. “If congress and the president will just let us export crude we can advance that even further. We just don’t have a place to sell it.”
King said there was much work left to be done particularly in border security.
“We’ve just given up on the fed,” King said. “People don’t understand the magnitude of this problem and the cost it is incurring on our health care system and educational system.”
Kind said that Texas is spending millions each month to secure portions of the border in Texas but countless number of undocumented people continue to pour in.
“Last year we averaged, just in the Rio Grand Valley, 1000 people crossing into Texas illegally every day,” he said. “We figure three or four times that many got in that we don’t know about.”
He said traditionally it has been Mexican nationals wanting to cross the border for work and a better way of life - but even that was changing.
“Last year it was only 30 percent that were from Mexico,” King said. “Seventy percent were from other countries like the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia, Central and South America.”
King said that anyone who doesn’t believe people, who don’t like America aren’t taking advantage of the open borders, are just - “naive.”
▪ Entitlement relief was another area King touched on.
“Medicaid has grown so much and it provides a poor quality of health care relative to the cost,” King said. “This budget session $36 billion went to Medicaid. We are now, by federal edict, putting more into that one entitlement program, than we’re putting into public education.”
He said the state was on a path to put half of its budget into the one program.
▪ King said transportation remains an issue he hopes voters will take care of this fall.
“We’re working on it and it’s going to take you voting on it on Nov. 3 to allow us to take some of the funds from the states reserve fund, to make it happen,” he said.
▪ He also added that two years ago this November, voters approved a bill to help improve Texas water infrastructure.
“We put $2 billion into a revolving fund that over the next 20 years will fund $27 billion in water infrastructure,” King said. “We’ve just started issuing funding for that, again with no new taxes, that will work out over the next 20 years.”