State Senator speaks to constituents at high school
By Robin Scott
State Senator Kel Seliger made a trip to Dalhart on Wednesday, September 9th. The Senator represents the 31st state district of Texas, which encompasses the Texas panhandle all the way down to Midland-Odessa. The auditorium at Dalhart High School was the backdrop for the Senator’s discussion that began at 2:00 p.m. Area residents and students poured into the auditorium to hear the Senator deliver a casual message, followed by an open discussion. Mayor Kevin Caddell introduced the Senator.
Seliger noted that because of the size of the 31st District, he represents more people than a United States Congressman. The district is largely agricultural and he spoke of the many benefits that the district brings to the entire state of Texas.
The Senator began the town meeting by asking the students in attendance if they believed that the President of the United States should be allowed to talk to students as President Obama did the day before. The consensus was that not only should the students have been allowed to watch the broadcast of the President’s address, but that it should have been mandatory.
He next asked students to become interested in their government and vote. He noted, “What could be better than living in this community and going to this school?” He also stated, “Government has a lot to say about the job that you will have, income you will make and keep, and schools your children will go to.” He reminded students that voting is important and stated, “You don’t want to miss that opportunity.” He also noted that the Governor’s race in Texas will be hotly contested, and this year will be a big political year.
The Senator spoke about the successes and failures of the 81st Legislature, which ended in June. He stated, “It was the most unusual session ever seen.” He reported on the failure of a bill that would allow the Dalhart Hospital District to employ a physician. It is against the law in the state of Texas for a hospital to hire a doctor. He stated that the failure of the bill to pass was unfortunate.
He also spoke about the state’s $182 billion budget for the upcoming year. He called it, “A big budget for a big state.” He added, “At the end of the year, we had a balanced budget.” He compared states like California, who have a billion dollar deficit, to Texas, one of only six states with a balanced budget. He also noted, “The balanced budget says a lot of good things about the state of Texas, and Dallam County was one of the leading rural areas for economic development and growth.”
Senator Seliger opened the floor to students to ask questions. They immediately asked about the TAKS tests. He noted, “TAKS test came from when George Bush was Governor. It was a nice idea and philosophy that went really wrong.” Semester tests are taking the place of the TAKS, and Seliger noted, “You will take semester tests just like your parents did, and your test will be based upon the class you just took. You are not going to stop Algebra II to go back and study last year’s Geometry for the test.” Students that are juniors and seniors at DHS that have already passed the TAKS stated that they were disappointed that they will not have to pass semester tests, and that no student may be exempt from any semester test.
After the students left the auditorium at the end of their class period, Seliger turned his focus on the parents and area residents that came to the talk. Questions asked of the Senator from the adults included whether or not the Highway 87 expansion project will get completed, a question about life support in Texas and a hospital having a right to discontinue the life support over family objection, the new laws about child booster seats and many questions dealing with water rights. On the ground water issue, Seliger stated, “Where ground water is used, it should be a part of a groundwater district. There should be a requirement to conserve water.” He added, “We address water every single day, year in and year out. It is one of the most important topics we discuss.”
Senator Seliger continued to listen to and talk with constituents after the town meeting ended. He graciously talked with every person that approached him and left for his next stop in Stratford a little late.