By Gilbert Hoffman
The Green Forest Civic Club hosted a Town Hall meeting last Tuesday night, at which State Representative Armando Walle updated the audience on the accomplishments of the 86th Legislative session that just ended in June.
The meeting held at the offices of the East Aldine District was attended by Civic Club members and a large group of the public and interested citizens, including the Melrose, Castlewood and Colonial Hills Civic Clubs.
Walle recounted how he first served in the Legislature in 2009, and that this was his 6th term. That seniority has allowed him to be appointed to some important committee assignments, including Higher Education, Appropriations, and Redistricting. He also was on the conference committee that determined final edits to the state’s two-year budget, which this session amounted to $250 Billion dollars. He noted that this is the 10th largest budget in the world, ahead of most counties and states.
Highlights of the session and the budget include passing of HB3, a School Finance Bill that included $12 Billion for comprehensive school programs. These now include Full-Day Pre-K funding for eligible four-year-olds, an increase of $6.5 Billion for public schools, including a $2 Billion amount for educator pay increases, a 20% increase in per-student base funding.
Retired teachers also got a pay raise amounting to about $2000. The landmark HB3 (House Bill 3) was authored by Representative Dan Huberty, and co-authored by Walle and others.
Walle said that other highlights of the session included property tax relief that will take effect in 2020, and increase the next year.
To deal with the problem of flooding and flood relief, the Legislature set $2.1 Billion for Hurricane Harvey victim’s recovery, and another $1.8 Billion in flood mitigation to reduce future floods. He noted ongoing flood control projects for Halls Bayou and Greens Bayou.
Walle was able to get funds to improve parks in his district, including $1 Million for rebuilding Melrose Park, and $1 Million each for Squatty Lyons and Keith-Wiess parks.