Area Leaders and Lawmakers Hold Historic Joint Meeting

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

WACO (January 22, 2012)- For the first time in history, Waco ISD school board members, The Waco City Council, McLennan County Commissioners, board members from McLennan Community College, and local lawmakers, met together for a "thinktank" meeting regarding possible upcoming Texas legislation.

Many packed the Bosque Theater inside the Waco Convention Center for the meeting Tuesday night. Area leaders conveyed in one voice to local lawmakers how they would like political issues handled for the upcoming year.

Waco ISD School Board Member Pat Atkins kicked off the meeting. Atkins spoke on behalf of Waco ISD, and detailed what his school district wants in regards to Texas Education.

Atkins detailed how Waco ISD would like to see more funding go to Pre-K programs throughout Texas. Currently, the State of Texas only funds 'half-day' Pre-K programs.

Atkins presented data, showing that students who were a part of a full Pre-K program, had a higher chance of completing high school, and a lower chance of committing a violent crime.

In closing, Atkins said he'd like to see more change to formulas that are used to help decide how schools in Texas receive funding from the State Department of Education.

Dr. Roland Goertz then spoke about medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the medicaid age gap would be expanded to individuals between the ages of 19 and 65.

However, it's optional for a state to choose if they would like to expand medicaid. Governor Rick Perry has said that Texas' current position is to not expand.

If Texas did choose to expand, Dr. Goertz said over 27,000 McLennan County citizens would receive affordable healthcare.

Sarah Roberts, Senior Vice President of Economic Development for The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, then said that expanding medicaid would cost Texas 5.7 billion dollars in revenue from 2013 to 2022.

But she countered, saying the expansion of medicaid would also create thousands of jobs for Texas and McLennan County.

From 2013 to 2022, Roberts said Texas could receive a 250 billion dollar boost to the economy. She then said that Waco would receive an estimated 4 million dollar boost.

Texas Senator Brian Birdwell (R) and Texas Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson (R) attended the meeting and listened intently.

They will now head back to Austin with a better idea of what and how their community wants them to vote for the future.

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