Round Rock chamber hosts panel discussion with state legislators

The Round Rock Chamber of Commerce hosted a public policy briefing with five area state legislators Jan. 25 to discuss the major topics of the 2013 legislative session.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-District 5, and state representatives Tony Dale, R-District 136; Marsha Farney, R-District 20; Larry Gonzales, R-District 52; and Mark Strama, D-District 50, took turns discussing state issues related to education, health care, water and transportation as part of the panel discussion held at the Texas State University-Round Rock campus.

Schwertner started the discussion by stating that while Texas is in better fiscal shape than it was during the last legislative session, challenges remain in education, infrastructure and health care funding.

"Health care is the driving issue of our budget," Schwertner said.

Farney, Gonzales and Strama all highlighted the need for Texas to continue supporting public and higher education programs for improvement.

"To me, it starts and stops with education," Gonzales said. "Is there a bigger investment we can make in our kids?"

Dale discussed the budgetary issues facing the state. He said much of the projected $8 billion budget surplus has already been spent on previous obligations including Medicaid funding. Dale said when the previous spending obligations are factored in, the true state surplus comes out closer to $100 million.