By State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-District 138)
With the 83rd Texas Legislature underway, I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the citizens of West Harris County. Having been born and raised in House District 138, I know the people and their values quite well.
We face a number of critical issues this session, and two of my top priorities are the budget and public education.
I have always believed that a good leader is a good listener, and I am committed to working closely with local elected officials, community leaders and local citizens to solve these issues in a way that best represents our local community.
The Texas State Constitution requires that the legislature pass a balanced budget. Two years ago while facing a $27 billion shortfall, the Texas Legislature passed a balanced state budget without raising taxes while maintaining essential state services. We had to prioritize spending, make tough choices, and balance our books, just like Memorial/Spring Branch families and businesses have to do. And because we were able to balance the budget without raising taxes, the state's economy is recovering, revenue projections are on the rise and the state's unemployment rate is at its lowest in four years.
This session, I remain committed to balancing our state budget without raising taxes. Burgeoning revenues and low unemployment validate our “Texas Model” as an economic engine, and we must continue to promote policies, principles, and a balanced regulatory environment that keeps our state and citizens on the path to prosperity.
Public education spending makes up nearly 57 percent of our state budget, the largest single expenditure in our state’s budget, followed by healthcare spending at 26 percent. While I support adding more money directly to our classrooms, different approaches to educating our children must also be pursued in order to truly achieve education excellence and encourage innovation. We must have an education system that focuses on student outcomes, and our measurements must be in line with our mission statement.
The state of Texas should establish its primary education goal as ensuring that each student is fully prepared to receive a technical certificate, two-year degree or four-year degree upon high school graduation, with no remedial education; in other words, they must be prepared on “day 1” to do post high school educational classroom work. With every decision we make concerning education, we need to ask ourselves, "Does this get us closer to the goal?
The education model and calendar of Texas schools is built largely on an agrarian, antiquated system. Our children need to be educated for a 21st century world and we need to assess the effectiveness of our current school calendar and strategy. Extended learning time, virtual learning, public school choice, and increased teacher quality are all components that can contribute to bringing the education industry’s “best practices” together to redefine public education in Texas. Our children, especially those in economically disadvantage areas of Texas, are counting on us to give them true access to a high quality public education.
The cap on charter schools in Texas should be increased, but equally important is accountability. We hold poor performing public schools accountable and we must do the same with poor performing charter schools. Spring Branch ISD is an innovation-oriented school district and has collaborated with KIPP and Yes Prep to form a public/charter partnership at two schools in West Houston. These partnerships should be encouraged to help spread the best practices developed in one school or district with those around the state. We are very fortunate in Spring Branch to have a school system that is not afraid to think “outside of the box.”
There is a lot of work to be done in the 83rd Texas Legislature, and I look forward to working with members of our local community to represent the best interests of West Harris County.
Rep. Dwayne Bohac, a Republican, represents Texas House District 138.