The fight for public ed, higher ed begins with committee assignments

Lynn Stucky

State Rep. Lynn Stucky

There’s a new speaker in the Texas House and he has his foot on the gas.

Newly-elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) is setting the tone for the House of Representatives. A week after session began, the House released its draft version of the budget for 2020-21. Two weeks later, committee assignments were delivered; this is almost a month sooner than in the 2017 session.

As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I will now be front-and-center for the discussions on how to fund state programs. That includes public education.

Additionally, I will be serving as vice-chair of the House Committee on Higher Education. The committee oversees public colleges and universities, as well as several state agencies tied to institutions of higher learning.

Subcommittees still need to be assigned for House Appropriations; these subcommittees discuss the individual articles of the constitution controlling funding for public health, education, state government, the judiciary and more. There is potential, in my role on both of these committees, for me to discuss both the funding and the standards to which our colleges and universities are held.

As for public education, the House is already suggesting an increase of $9 billion for schools. Some of that money will be tied to school finance reform, which will be debated in the House Committee on Public Education. State Rep. Dan Huberty is returning in his role as chair of that committee.

The next few weeks will be organizational as committee chairs hire staff and get with committee members to discuss rules and operational expectations.

It’s typically at this point of the session that folks ask me what they can do to help? The answer is simple: take action.

Texans have a variety of needs and the best way for a state representative to serve is to have open communication with the constituency. My staff is ready to take your calls and respond to your emails advocating or opposing any piece of legislation. Here are a couple tips on what to have ready when you call or email:

* Start with your contact information: It helps to get a phone number, email and a zip code to direct calls to the appropriate office.

* Have a bill number ready: While some issues are well-known, others require a bit more research. Having a specific bill number allows my staff to tag your support or opposition.

For legislative issues or information about visiting the Capitol, contact my Capitol office at 512-463-0582 or mail Capitol correspondence to PO Box 2910 Austin, TX 78701.