Today, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced that he is running for re-election to the Texas Senate. Senator Hinojosa is a proven leader with extensive experience and a track record of delivering results for South Texas. With a distinguished background, Senator Hinojosa brings a unique set of qualifications to his role as a public servant. As a United States Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, he understands the importance of service and sacrifice. Additionally, his experience as a Texas Assistant Attorney General and years of service in the legislature have equipped him with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively advocate for his constituents. Senator Hinojosa’s approach to public policy and his decisions on legislation are based on what is best for our South Texas families. With his leadership, experience, proven track record, and as vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa is the clear choice to continue representing Senate District 20 in the Texas Senate.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“I am honored to serve the people of Senate District 20 and I am proud to announce my candidacy for re-election to the Texas Senate. Over the years, I have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the people in my district and across the state. I am committed to continuing that work and fighting for the issues that matter most to our communities including advocating for fully funding public education, increasing access to affordable health care, investing in our transportation and drainage infrastructure, creating high paying jobs and improving the quality of life for our South Texas families.
I was honored to co-author legislation and vote for the largest property tax relief package in Texas history. This $18 billion package will increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, and $110,000 for those over 65 or disabled. This package also includes a temporary 20% cap on appraisal increases for non-homestead properties valued at $5 million or less. We also cut franchise taxes for small businesses by doubling the amount of a taxable entity’s total revenue that is exempted by increasing it from $1.235 million to $2.47 million. This change will exempt approximately 67,000 businesses from paying the franchise tax, allowing them to reinvest their resources into growth and job creation. We also eliminated the requirement to file a No-Tax-Due franchise tax return if that entity does not owe any franchise taxes for that year.
During this past legislative session, we made significant investments in higher education including $650 million to reform community college funding formulas to prioritize student outcomes; over $350 million to increase formulas for our public universities; and $185 million to support Military and Veterans Exemptions. This will increase funding for Texas A&M Corpus Christi, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Del Mar College, Coastal Bend College, and South Texas College.
Infrastructure continues to be another priority of mine. We invested $5 billion to support the construction and operation of electric generating facilities. The state budget included over $37 billion to address the state’s transportation needs which include: $400 million to capitalize the Ship Channel Improvement Revolving Fund, $200 million for maritime port capital improvement projects, and additional funding for border infrastructure; $1.5 billion for broadband, which is in addition to the $500 million investment made last session. We appropriated $1 billion to capitalize the Texas Water Fund for financing water projects in the state and $625 million to be transferred to the Flood Infrastructure Fund to increase funding for flood control, drainage, and mitigation projects.
Job creation, job training, and economic development have also been a priority. This session I supported the $1 billion investment for new park development in honor of the 100th anniversary of our state park system. I was also pleased we appropriated over $1 billion to an endowment to support capital needs for career and technical education programs at Texas State Technical Colleges; a total of $1.5 billion for financial aid programs; and over $30 million for the Jobs Education for Texas program which provides grants to community colleges and high schools for job training.
Taking care of the health care needs of Texans, especially mental health, is critical. This session we further strengthened our commitment to mental health services by providing $11.6 billion for behavioral health. This includes $1.6 billion for new construction of mental health state hospitals, $302 million for mental health community hospitals, and $83 million for community mental health grant programs. The state budget also includes an increase of over $1.2 billion for mental health care to address workforce challenges at state facilities, fully fund the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium, and address the statewide mental health professional workforce shortage. We provided $2 billion to raise the base wages for Medicaid community attendants and $447 million in funding for women’s health programs.
Education is the greatest equalizer and public education is the key for the future of our children and our country. The budget this session totals $61.7 billion which is an increase of $14.1 billion. The budget fully funds the Foundation School Program and provides $3.2 billion to fund projected enrollment growth. For our Teacher Retirement System (TRS) annuitants, including our retired teachers, we appropriated $5 billion for a much-needed cost-of-living-adjustment, and a substantial stipend for certain retirees. Our work in this area is not complete. While the General Appropriations Act includes $5.3 billion for formula funding increases, teacher pay increases, curriculum reform, and others, it will now be taken up in a special session. We also have a big issue left to address that deals with the difference in local appraised property values versus state values which impact funding for school districts.
Our work is not complete. We had a busy and productive regular session, but elections have consequences and several pending issues will be brought up in a future special session. In this political environment, we need legislators who can work across the aisle to address issues and put people over politics and govern with compassion. I am committed to working every day to make a difference in the lives of the people I represent.”
Senator Hinojosa has received the prestigious honor of being named “Top Ten Best Legislators” for Texas Monthly magazine three times and named “Top Ten Legislator” by Capitol Inside three times.