From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
January 9, 2001
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

77th Legislature Begins; Fraser Sworn to Second Term in Senate

AUSTIN -- State Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, officially began his second term in the Texas Senate today, taking the oath of office at noon as the 77th Texas Legislature launched its 140-day lawmaking session.

Fraser, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, said his major priority will be to continue working on the state budget as a member of the Finance Committee. Fraser served on the committee last session, and was one of five senators appointed to the House-Senate conference committee that wrote the final version of the budget.

"The challenge of every session is writing a new budget, and that's where I can do the most good for the people of our district," Fraser said. "This session adds a second complication because of redistricting."

In addition to the Finance Committee, Fraser was named vice chairman of the Business and Commerce Committee, as well as a member of the State Affairs Committee.

"Money for the state budget will be a little tighter this year than last session, and a lot of people and programs are competing for limited resources," Fraser said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge and to helping as many as we can within the confines of responsible spending."

Estimates by state Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander indicate that the state will have an additional $5.1 billion in spending to work with. Fraser noted, however, that more than $2 billion of that amount is needed to cover recurring program costs such as Medicaid.

"In terms of so-called surplus funds, the real number is closer to $3 billion, or roughly $1.5 billion per fiscal year in the next budget cycle," Fraser said.

The second half of the session, Fraser said, is expected to be dominated by redistricting because the Legislature must conclude its work on the state Senate and House boundaries before it adjourns May 28.

"Because we won't get the detailed, block-level data from the Census Bureau until around April 1, the time frame for drawing new lines will be compressed," Fraser said. "We'll have about two months to come up with a plan that can win legislative support."

The U.S. Census Bureau has released preliminary figures indicating that Texas' population has grown nearly 23 percent since 1990. Because of the growth, Texas will increase its number of congressional seats to 32, up from the current 30.

If the Legislature cannot agree on redistricting plans by the end of session, the Texas Constitution requires a five-member Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB) to meet to enact a new redistricting plan for the state House and Senate districts.

Senate District 24 comprises all or part of 21 counties: Bell, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Coryell, Lampasas, Llano (part), McCulloch, Menard, Mills, Mitchell, Nolan, Runnels, San Saba, Shackelford, Stephens, Taylor (part), and Young.