Four Price - Texas State Representative, Republican, District 87 | Price: Education, water needs on legislators' minds

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Price: Education, water needs on legislators' minds

October 14, 2013
Amarillo Globe-News

The big takeaways from Texas’ most recent legislative session involved education and water issues, said Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, during a meeting of the Kiwanis Club on Monday.

The 2011 drought spurred lawmakers to create a plan to fund water infrastructure projects, which is one of the constitutional amendments on the Nov. 5 ballot, he said. Recent years of dry, hot weather have brought back memories of the drought of the 1950s, considered the worst in Texas history.

“What people may not remember is some communities literally dried up and don’t exist today, and we had businesses and industry suffer and leave and agriculture devastated,” Price said. “No matter what part of the state you were in, you were not immune from the effects of the drought.”

A proposed constitutional amendment, Proposition 6, would devote $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, which would be managed by the Texas Water Development Board to provide loans for water projects.

“We have a rapidly growing state, and that is really a blessing and a curse,” Price said. “We attract a lot of businesses and a lot of people want to live here, … however, we are facing challenges because of that rapid growth.”

One of those challenges has involved funding for public education. About $3.4 billion, an amount previously cut from its budget, has been devoted to schools during the last legislative session, Price said.

He added that the Legislature may hold a special session in the future regarding the state’s school finance approach, the subject of a recent lawsuit in which more than two-thirds of Texas school districts alleged the state didn’t adequately fund the public school system.

Price also discussed the passage of House Bill 5, an overhaul of the state’s testing and graduation requirements, which slashed the number of standardized tests a high school student must take in order to graduate from 15 to five, while also reducing the number of required courses.

Replacing the four-by-four system that required students to have four credits each of math, English, science and social studies, the new plan has a minimum of four English credits and three credits each of science, social studies and math.

The bill also creates new diploma endorsement programs in areas such as math and science.

“What a lot of people thought in Texas is we were testing our kids way too often, too much and not teaching them material, but teaching to a test, and the requirements of the four-by-four curriculum across the state of Texas were really too focused on graduating kids and preparing them for college, not graduating kids with skills, so that those who didn’t want to go to college would have the ability to enter the workforce in a timely way with something to do,” Price said.