The Texas legislature is eight weeks into the 85th Legislative Session. Bills have been referred to committees and legislation will begin to be debated in the House of Representatives. One of the most influential committees is the Appropriations committee. It has jurisdiction over all bills appropriating monies out of the State Treasury for the maintenance of State Government. This week I personally attended the Appropriations hearing that heard testimony regarding House budget recommendations for educational agencies and school issues.

The committee heard testimony from several institutions including the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. Dr. Carrie Byington, Dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine and Falfurrias native, gave testimony that supported maintaining education funding and encouraged actively looking for additional funds to help offset the current reductions. Dr. Byington discussed several special items with the committee including Healthy South Texas. This is a program that addresses diabetes and other health care costs, along with an initiative called Nursing Expansion that works towards providing nurses to areas of rural Texas. She also discussed the importance of the Irma Lerma Rangel Pharmacy School in Kingsville and how it will be important to maintain funding to keep developing pharmacists that serve the South Texas region.

Dr. Byington is nationally renowned for her work and is the first Hispanic woman to hold the position of dean and senior vice president at a U.S. academic medical college. She is an inspiration to me and the whole region of South Texas. I'm ready to help Dr. Byington and all the Texas institutions of higher education during the coming months.