State Senator Kelly Hancock spent 40 minutes this morning answering questions posed by members of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Advisory Council. The questions touched on toll roads and transportation funding, healthcare and Medicaid expansion, and the future of education financing in Texas.
Senator Hancock explained that support for toll road projects comes and goes, and right now, support is diminished. He said that in his own chemical distribution business it is more cost-effective for his trucks to spend the money for tolls rather than experience the lost time caused by traffic congestion. The situation is better today because the legislature has dedicated two new sources for transportation infrastructure. When told about a recent positive experience on the light rail in the region, the Senator responded that light rail is the most expensive form of transportation available today.
When asked about Texas’ uninsured population and the potential to bring in federal dollars to expand Medicaid to more Texans, Senator Hancock said it would be great in the beginning, but as the federal level of funding decreases, it would be a burden on the state. He said that healthcare costs to the Texas government have grown so large they are crowding out many other necessary funding needs. When questioned further about a solution to the healthcare issues in Texas, Senator Hancock said we had framed the question correctly. The answer is much tougher than the question.
Asked to comment on the education funding levels created by HB3 in the last legislative session, Senator Hancock said he could see how they could be continued in the next biennium. Eventually, he allowed that like healthcare expenses, education funding would continue to grow and crowd out other worthwhile funding needs in the state.
Senator Hancock mentioned that he had led a delegation of legislators from across the country on a visit to the McAllen sector of the border in August. He briefly described what he saw there. That prompted several questions about the cost and effectiveness of border security.
The event was polite and respectful. The Senator’s responses were forthcoming, and he displayed a friendly openness that was appreciated by the Council members.