Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27

For Immediate Release
Monday, May 14, 2001
Contact: Doris Sanchez
(512) 463-0127

Border Chairman requests Blue Ribbon Committee to develop Economically Distressed Region Base Budget Initiative

(Austin, Texas) Today the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 1837, authored by the Senate Border Delegation relating to the creation of the Texas Border Strategic Investment Commission and making a $250 million appropriation impacting the 43-county Border region.

"This is great effort and I commend Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff (R-Mt. Pleasant) for helping craft this noteworthy measure," stated State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., (D-Brownsville), Chairman of the Border Affairs Subcommittee.

While questioning the primary author of SB 1837, Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso), Senator Lucio stated "I support your efforts but if we can't receive at least $250 million under this commission, then as Chairman of the Border Affairs Subcommittee, I will formally request from the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House the formation of a Blue Ribbon Interim Committee . . . to recommend and develop for next session's base budget a Strategic Economically Distressed Region Infrastructure Development Initiative."

In correspondence sent May 7, 2001, to the Lt. Governor, Senator Lucio wrote:

"I respectfully request that as our Lt. Governor and Chairman of the Legislative Budget Board that you establish for the interim a Blue Ribbon Committee to develop a strategic economically distressed region infrastructure and economic development initiative. I would suggest that the Committee include as its members the four critical budget writers of the Board (the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Chairman of Senate Finance and Chairman of the House Appropriations) along with members of the Border and rural Texas who sit on the budget writing committees. It is my hope that the Blue Ribbon Committee would develop the economically distressed region initiative and that the Legislative Budget Board would use it as a guidepost when drafting the base budget for next session. The Blue Ribbon panel could analyze our state programs and propose new ones that will engender economic prosperity for every Texan in every region of our state."

In his correspondence, Senator Lucio went on to say, "Please do not misconstrue my recommendation as one that takes away from other measures that have or will be proposed. Notwithstanding the efforts by some, having had the opportunity to serve in the Finance Committee for several sessions, I understand the importance of the base recommendations by the Budget Board and the difficulty of trying to produce an initiative that would not create regional friction. That is why I respectfully urge you to consider the Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation and unify the different regions of the state of Texas that are economically distressed."

Brief historical background of selective Border initiatives.

- In 1993, the Legislature established the South Texas/Border Higher Education Initiative.
- In 1995, the Legislature establishes the South Texas/Border Health Education Initiative.
- In 1999, the Border Affairs Committee incorporates in the Senate version of the Appropriations' Bill a $960 million budget for economically distressed areas of the state and $1 billion for the Border's transportation infrastructure.

ENCLOSED May 7, 2001, correspondence to Lt. Governor Ratliff.




May 7, 2001

The Honorable Bill Ratliff
Lieutenant Governor
State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Governor Ratliff:

I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to serve as a member of the Finance Committee and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border Affairs. Truly, you have continued to provide the Border a forum to address our unique and special circumstances.

Last session, under your leadership, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Border Affairs Committee drafted and incorporated into the Senate version of the Appropriations' Bill a $960 million budget for economically distressed areas of the state (including the Border region). As Chairman of the Finance Committee, you showed an unmatched vision and determination to help economically distressed regions of the state. Today, I come to you again with an initiative that will build on our success of last session and that will help our poorest, most impoverished regions in Texas.

I respectfully request that as our Lt. Governor and Chairman of the Legislative Budget Board that you establish for the interim a Blue Ribbon Committee to develop a strategic economically distressed region infrastructure and economic development initiative. I would suggest that the Committee include as its members the four critical budget writers of the Board (the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Chairman of Senate Finance and Chairman of the House Appropriations) along with members of the Border and rural Texas who sit on the budget writing committees. It is my hope that the Blue Ribbon Committee would develop the economically distressed region initiative and that the Legislative Budget Board would use it as a guidepost when drafting the base budget for next session. The Blue Ribbon panel could analyze our state programs and propose new ones that will engender economic prosperity for every Texan in every region of our state.

Please do not misconstrue my recommendation as one that takes away from other measures that have or will be proposed. Notwithstanding the efforts by some, having had the opportunity to serve in the Finance Committee for several sessions, I understand the importance of the base recommendations by the Budget Board and the difficulty of trying to produce an initiative that would not create regional friction. That is why I respectfully urge you to consider the Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation and unify the different regions of the state of Texas that are economically distressed.

I thank you for your leadership and anxiously await your response.

Sincerely,
Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs

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