May 22, 2008

Nelson discusses transportation, immigration, economy, education

Nelson discusses transportation, immigration, economy, education

BY DAN EAKIN, Staff Writer
(Created: Thursday, May 22, 2008 2:58 PM CDT)
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Transportation, immigration, the economy and education are among the major issues facing the Texas Legislature, State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, told area business leaders in a joint meeting of government affairs committees Thursday morning at the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The Capitol is buzzing right now, with decisions to be made which will affect all of us,” she said.

“Everywhere I go, people want to talk about transportation,” she said. “We have to make sure those arteries stay open. It is a quality of life issue. None of us want to spend an hour and a half in traffic that we could be spending with our families.”

“With gas costs increasing, there is going to be a greater need for public transportation,” she added.

Charles Emery, chairman of the Denton County Transportation Authority board of directors, told Nelson that Denton County is the second fastest growing county in the United States with populations more than 500,000, and that 150,000 people and 130,000 vehicles are added to the North Texas Council of Governments’ nine-county region every year. He said the region now has a population of 6.5 million people.

Speaking of the economy, Nelson said Texas is now the only state “that is in the black,” and that is largely due to a booming economy in the Metroplex. “We are the economic engine that is turning the whole state,” she said. “One-third of the economy of the state is generated in the Metroplex.”

On the subject of immigration, Nelson noted that Oklahoma and Arizona have passed tough laws dealing with illegal immigrants, and said Texas may need to consider updating its laws in order to keep illegal immigrants from moving from Oklahoma and Arizona to Texas.

“However, much of this has to be dealt with at the federal level,” she said.

About education issues, Nelson said, “We need to make sure our teachers are paid well.”

Nelson, a former school teacher, said there is a shortage of math and science teachers throughout the state.

“Someone skilled in math and science may have to choose between teaching at $40,000 a year or going to work for a company who needs these skills as well for $80,000 a year,” she said.

“We are fortunate in our area to have great schools,” Nelson said. “People move to Denton County because they know we have great schools.”

Dr. Jerry Roy, Lewisville Independent School District superintendent, told Nelson that a large influx of new students can create problems for the school district.

“Every time we see 1,000 new students, we wonder where we are going to get the money,” he said.

Nelson said she is also concerned about how much public school systems in the state will be affected by rising gasoline costs.

Following Nelson’s address, Austin resident Lance Lively, legislative director of the Texas Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), presented Nelson with an award for her strong support of independent businesses.

Laura Stromberg, NFIB spokesperson, said Nelson voted in favor of nine issues supported by NFIB.

“We consider Senator Nelson to be a strong ally of small businesses throughout the state,” Stromberg said.

Contact Dan Eakin at 972-628-4075 or at Comment on this story at

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