Texas Border Business
Today, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced that he is running for re-election to the Texas Senate. Highlighting his legislative successes, as well as his ability to work across the aisle, Senator Hinojosa has proven session after session that his approach to public policy and his decisions on legislation are based on what is best for our South Texas families. Senator Hinojosa has the experience and will continue delivering results for the needs of Senate District 20.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“I am honored to serve the people of Senate District 20 and I am running again to finish the work I started when I was first elected. I have dedicated my legislative career to advocating for fully funding public education, increasing access to affordable health care for everyone, especially our most vulnerable, investing in our transportation and drainage infrastructure, creating high paying jobs, and improving the quality of life for our South Texas families.
I am proud to say that funding for public education is the highest it has been since I was first elected to the Texas Senate. Our schools in South Texas, even with a high percentage of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, are outperforming other regions of the state. This past session we kept our promise to protecting investments made by HB 3 during the 2019 legislative session by fully funding public education and protecting the salary increases to our teachers and school employees.
As the lead author of Senate Bill 24 in 2013, which created the UTRGV School of Medicine, I couldn’t be prouder of the positive impact it has had on our community. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the medical school was already increasing the number of specialized doctors in the region, conducting research in diabetes and cervical cancer, and opening clinics in medically underserved areas of our community. Having this asset in our region saved lives when the pandemic hit the Rio Grande Valley. This is an important first step, and I hope to build upon it by bringing a cancer treatment center to South Texas, which will save even more lives in our community.
In 2009, working with the business community and university leadership, we secured $2 million in state funds for A&M Corpus Christi to establish a mechanical engineering program, which we expanded to include an electrical engineering program in 2015. Since then, we have provided nearly $30 million in additional dollars for engineering at A&M Corpus Christi. In 2019, I also secured $2.3 million in new funding to establish the Civil & Industrial Engineering Program. Increasing the number of engineers in the region is something I take seriously and will continue to push for more resources to accomplish this goal. Just as important are the investments we have made to the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft System (LSUAS) Center. Since 2015, nearly $28 million in state funds have been appropriated to this center including an additional $3 million this past session to enhance LSUAS’s ability to provide statewide service by supporting critical emergency response and disaster relief demands.
Infrastructure has been another priority of mine. The reconstruction of the US 281 Pharr Interchange is underway; the Bicentennial reconstruction in McAllen is almost complete; the funding to bring US 281 in Hidalgo County and Brooks County to interstate standards is already in the TxDOT Unified Transportation Program; and the Premont bypass is under construction in Jim Wells County. However, the Harbor Bridge Project is not yet complete. I worked for almost ten years to get the funding for this $1 billion project. My goal is to see this bridge connect Nueces and San Patricio County over the Port of Corpus Christi. I also want to make sure the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority receives the funding and approval to move forward with the SH 365 project.
To address drainage issues, I have worked for years with the Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 to secure more than $50 million from the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reduce frequent flooding problems and accommodate the area’s rapid urbanization and future economic development. I have worked with our local leaders to secure these funds from several sources including the state budget, RESTORE funds, and most recently from the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). I have also worked with Nueces County leadership to provide safe and clean drinking water to residents in colonias. Furthermore, I am proud to have worked with and supported the collaboration between the Nueces County Drainage District No. 2 and Nueces County to obtain $2.7 million from FIF for the Nueces County Regional Drainage Master Plan project. With all these projects in motion, flood relief is on the way.
Job creation and economic development have also been a priority. I have worked tirelessly to support our maritime ports and international ports of entry. The Port of Corpus Christi is an economic driver not only for the region but for the State of Texas. I have advocated for and secured funding from the Texas Port Access Improvement Grant Program to improve connectivity. I also led the fight in securing funds for our international ports of entry from TxDOT. With these funds, the Anzalduas bridge will be expanded and the Pharr International Bridge has been able to make improvements to their facilities to expedite the flow of goods and people across the bridge. These investments create jobs and help our local economies.
While the past two years have presented us with many challenges, I have worked alongside our public officials and our community leaders to ensure the needs of our families are met. Prior to the legislative session as member of Governor Abbott’s budget leadership team for COVID funding, I was in constant communication with our state agencies and advocated to secure the necessary healthcare workers, equipment, and resources needed to address the coronavirus pandemic challenges in South Texas. This past session, I worked with my colleagues to enact policies that will help us not just return to normal but emerge stronger than before.
Also, this session as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, I had the opportunity to work with members of the committee to address the serious shortfalls Winter Storm Uri presented us earlier this year. Several of the significant structural reforms to ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission were discussed and passed out of this committee. I supported legislation to make sure Texans and our state are bettered prepared for another winter storm and the changes we made will help our electric grid be ready for another storm.
As I mentioned at the end of this past session, the work of the 87th Legislature in not complete. While we had a busy and productive regular session, elections have consequences, and several pending issues will be brought up in at least two special sessions. 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 continue fighting to finish my work and meet the needs of our communities across Senate District 20.”