By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
About two dozen Navarro County residents took part in Tuesday's Navarro County Day in Austin, a trip sponsored by the Corsicana and Navarro County Chamber of Commerce.
The trip, held each year the Texas Legislature is in session, gives county residents and governmental leaders an opportunity to visit with legislators and other state government officials, and learn about the latest legislative happenings.
After a brief visit to the House chambers that included an introduction by State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), the group was treated to a luncheon in the Capitol office building along with a series of guest speakers, including leaders in education, transportation and water planning, which Cook said was vital to the future of Texas.
Speakers included Mike Levine, executive director of the Texas Sunset Commission; Matt Nelson, manager of regional water planning for the Texas Water Development Board; Michael Williams, Commissioner of Education with the Texas Education Agency; State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury); and Phil Wilson, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation.
Nelson said projected growth in Corsicana and Navarro County by the year 2060 could increase water needs for the region by as much as 50 percent over present usage levels.
Corsucana is expected to reach a population of 35,0000 by the year 2060, with Navarro County's population reaching near 90,000. County water demands are forecast to increase at the 50 percent level, he said.
Managing existing resources and developing responsible usage and conservation plans for all regions in Texas needs to be a priority, Cook said, adding he favors using money from the state's "Rainy Day Fund" to start that future planning.
Williams said Texas schools should focus more on core subjects, requiring four years of math, science, English and social studies, while focusing less on test scores.
"If it's not tested, it's not taught," he said.
Williams said there is room in the system to incorporate career and technical education while still teaching the core subjects, something being debated in the legislature now.
Williams said a long-term solution to funding of Texas schools will have to wait for the courts to decide - something he said is likely a year or two away.
"This is not the time to have that conversation," he said. He also expressed concern about the politics of Washington, saying Texas schools stand to lose over $500 million in federal funding due to the sequester in Congress, which would likely affect special programs.
The long-awaited Highway 31 relief route is on target according to TxDOT's Phil Wilson.
He said the money for the project has been dedicated, and that the project was "blowing and going."
Navarro County's State Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) said he is spending time working on water planning, service on the Sunset Commission, and the costs of higher education.
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