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Apr
13
2016

Legislators Host First of Several Town Halls

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Pictured above: Representative Leach visiting with Paul Hendricks, Director of the Veterans Center of North Texas.  Photo Credit: Haley Rogers, Plano Star Courier.

The following article was written by Haley Rogers and published by the Plano Star Courier on April 13, 2016

Texas Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, and Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, hosted the first joint town hall event of the year Monday night at the Collin College Conference Center. The two discussed the business of the state in both chambers of the Texas Legislature.

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January, the two felt it critical to provide a forum for residents to voice concerns, priorities and questions on the issues that impact their community and state.

“That’s the point of this evening, to hear your concerns, questions, ideas,” Leach said. “This is the first of several town halls that I and Sen. Taylor and the other representatives from Collin County will be doing in advance of the next legislative session.”

Leach and Taylor gave brief introductions before  taking questions. Taylor spoke on his Marine Corps background and how his family came to Texas in the 1800s, and Leach talked about his family and his professional and educational background leading up to his career as a lawyer and state representative sildenafil 100mg.

The first question came from Allen resident Sue Denson about a topic that overshadows all other problems, according to Taylor.

“My concern is property taxes,” Denson said. “I have not yet gotten my assessment for this year, but I hear it’s going to be pretty bad. I have managed to refinance my house twice in the last 10 years because I can’t afford to pay for an apartment. So it’s going to be property taxes that are going to force me to sell my home.”

Taylor said that government is growing too quickly and the growth of property taxes is an “arresting statistic.”

“Forty-two percent of the American dollar goes to the government,” Taylor said. “Currently, we are on track to getting our children in America where they work for the government, where everything they make goes right back to the government and then you have to beg to get it back. That’s unacceptable to me.”

Joe Cordina, former Parker mayor, asked Taylor and Leach what they consider to be the two items most impeding future growth. Leach mentioned roads and education.

“We need to increase funding at the state level for new roads and maintain existing roads or else growth will stop,” Leach said. “We’ve heard from those who came from California that they thought they wouldn’t have to battle as much traffic, but actually they are having to pay to battle traffic with our toll roads.”

Leach went on to explain that the city has so many tolls in the area specifically because the state legislature over the course of 30 to 40 years has failed in its responsibility to fund roads. According to Leach, in the early 1970s about 30 percent of the state’s budget was dedicated to transportation spending.

Today, that number is less than about 6 percent because it’s been crowded out by other portions of the budget.

“This past session, specifically, we have reversed that trend,” Leach said. “But we have to continue to do more, because if we can’t get people and products through our communities and across our state, that growth will stop.”

Leach said that public, private, home and charter schools must all work together to help parents know their kids are being cared for and properly educated.

“Parents need to be empowered in the state of Texas,” Leach said.

Other topics of discussion included water reservoirs, college tuition, Child Protective Services and Section 32 of the Texas Bill of Rights, which states that marriage is to be only between a man and a woman.

“The state constitution stays in place,” Leach said. “My biggest concern on a broader front: religious liberty. You can count on us to continue to fight that. There’s a reason freedom of religion is our First Amendment.”

According to Leach, the state has approximately 27 million people and Collin County has approximately one million. Projections have Texas’s population at over 50 million people in 50 years, and Collin County’s population is expected to triple over the next 35 to 40 years to 3 million.

“Not only do we have to advocate for the people who are here now, for you and your families, but we have to effectively advocate for those Texas who are yet to come,” Leach said.

Whether it’s transportation or public education, Leach said, he and Taylor want to make sure that government is limited, taxes stay low and criminal justice is fair and predictable.

“I am proud of the work we’ve done,” he said, “but we’re looking forward in anticipation of the work to be done.”

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