Burns: 'We have a lot left to do'
A conservative state budget that added to education spending, invested in border security and eliminated diversions from the highway fund was a start, Rep. DeWayne Burns said.
"We have a lot left to do," he said.
Burns, who represents residents in Bosque and Johnson Counties, delivered a brief update on his first Texas legislative session and glimpses into the next when he spoke April 21 at the Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce.
"We foresee [more than] 80,000 new students coming to Texas that we'll need to educate," Burns said, "So we provided [$1.5 billion] for that."
The state added $840 million toward a border security plan that Burns says is "the strongest plan of any kind that has been passed by any state in the nation."
Additionally, Texas legislators ended $1.3 billion in diversions from the Texas highway fund, Burns said, "to make sure those funds go where they were intended."
Some pressing needs remain, he said, like providing for water while continuing to protect private property interests.
"What we're going to try and do is make sure we are meeting the needs of Texans where water is concerned. Right now, there's water everywhere," Burns said. "At the same time, we have to be sure we are protecting the private property rights of our landowners. Coming from an ag background, that's something near and dear to my heart."
Burns was recently elected to his second term in the Texas House, and is in the process of reviewing potential legislation his office might pursue in 2017.
"If there are problems we need to fix, if there's something we are doing wrong as a state, bring those to us now," Burns said. "If you wait until the session starts in January, it will almost be too late."
In a brief address to provide time for Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar to address chamber members, Burns added just a few thoughts pertaining specifically to Burleson.
"What a great place to live and work. This community is growing and has grown exponentially. It is no accident," he said. "You have great leadership, but you have great schools. You have some innovative schools, giving students choices in public education."
That leads to a strong economy, Burns said.
"When big business has a chance to move or stay because they have outgrown their space, they are choosing to stay," he said. "That speaks volumes not only to the quality of life here, but the character of people."