By Ryan Rockett
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI — State Rep. Abel Herrero discussed public education, street improvements and disability funding with Bishop residents at a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Herrero held a question-and-answer session in which he fielded questions concerning transportation, education and other community issues at the Bishop Community Center.
Herrero said he wanted to inform residents of the results of the past legislative session as well as hear community concerns.
“As a state representative, I want to make sure I’m doing what I should be doing as an elected official, and that is representing the interests of the constituents,” Herrero said.
Herrero represents the state’s 34th district in the Texas House of Representatives. The crowd of about 20 people included Luis Buentello, field representative for congressman Blake Farenthold, and Nueces County Commissioner Joe Gonzalez.
Herrero also discussed public education improvements. Due to a state surplus, more than $2 billion was restored to the sector after receiving a $5.4 billion cut in 2011.
The state representative said the added funds helped improve the quality of education.
“(The funds) ensured teachers are no longer in overcrowded classrooms and made sure there’s a reduction in number of standardized tests so that every child, no matter what district they’re in, are receiving a first-class, quality education,” Herrero said.
Resident Christy Gonzalez said the reduction of standardized tests in schools this year was a boon to the community.
“Our kids are under a lot of pressure with those tests,” Gonzalez said. “It was good that they listened to the voices of the teachers around here.”
County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez said though the added funds helped, more needs to be done in the public education sector.
“It’s a shame we lost $5 billion and only got back half,” Gonzalez said. “That’s not enough. … Our classrooms are crowded; we’re still short of teachers.”
When an elderly woman voiced her struggle with applying for disability due to the high value of her assets, Herrero said he will discuss the issue with congressman Farenthold’s office.
“That’s a federal provision that we’ll work with the congressman’s office to try to address,” Gonzalez said. “At the state level we’re trying to do what we can.”
Gonzalez mentioned several city-improving initiatives including increased lighting in poorly lit neighborhoods and a proposed new door-to-door bus system to transport Bishop residents to areas around Corpus Christi and Robstown at a discounted rate.
“It’s going to save you money and be a lot better for you guys,” Gonzalez said.
Since the Texas Legislature meets in odd-numbered years, the next legislative session won’t begin until January 2015. Herrero said state representatives will research state issues in the interim.
Gonzalez said he was appreciative of the state representative’s visit and said it was important to maintain lines of communication between representatives and residents.
“These are the things we need to have on a regular basis,” Gonzalez said. “It takes all of us to make things work.”