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Sen. Hegar updates Victoria on most difficult legislative session of his career

By BY KAYLA BELL - KBELL@VICAD.COM
Aug. 30, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.


HEGAR'S TAKE ON RICK PERRY

State Sen. Glenn Hegar said he's convinced Gov. Rick Perry will be the Republican party's presidential nominee in the 2012 election.

"I'd say Gov. Perry is the best I have seen and probably will be the best I have seen in my life as far as a campaigner," Hegar said.

If Perry were to win the presidency, his seat would be filled by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

However, if Dewhurst wins his bid for a U.S. Senate seat, the state senate would be charged with replacing both the governor and lieutenant governor's positions with two of their own 31 senators.

Sen. Glenn Hegar called this legislative session one of the most difficult session in which he's worked since joining the Texas House of Representatives in 2003. But, he wants to do it again.

At the Victoria Economic Development Corporation's Victoria Partnership meeting Tuesday morning, Hegar said he intends to run for re-election in 2012.

"I've really enjoyed this job," he said. "There's not many places in government where you can actually have an impact on your constituents and still go home and see your kids."

The Katy Republican said this year was so trying, mostly because of balancing the budget and redistricting, which happens every 10 years.

As far as redistricting goes, Hegar's 19-county 18th district will remain mostly intact, though the senator added Port Aransas to his constituents.

When it came to the budget, Hegar and his colleagues worked to shed 8.1 percent of the state's spending, or $15 billion.

"We knew there would be a contraction in the economy," he said. "The question is, where are we going and how fast are we going."

Hegar said he expects Texas, and Victoria in particular, to persevere in any future economic struggles. He reiterated the importance of attracting businesses like Caterpillar Industries to the area and said one of the biggest obstacles the state and Victoria faces will be accommodating growth.

He joked he was actually able to find a hotel room in Victoria for the night.

"When you have such a population explosion - you have so many more people - how do you deal with infrastructure," he said.

That's one of the things Hegar said he hopes to get a handle on during the interim.

He said his daughter's elementary school, which is supposed to house 500 students, is this year dealing with 1,700 students. Meanwhile, Hegar said he recently visited a school that had a graduating class of three students.

"When you look at the disparities between school districts, it can be significant," he said.

School finance will certainly be on the next legislative session's radar. Hegar said his goal is to balance the about 70 school districts he represents.

Tweaking one aspect of the school finance formula to benefit one school might be detrimental to another school, he said.

"It should be simple," he said. "But it's not a 'keep it simple stupid' type deal because it's about the 1,041 districts ranging from three in a graduating class to hundreds, thousands in graduating classes. They're not the same geographically."

For now, Hegar said it's hard to pinpoint what his other main priorities may be if he were to serve another term. He's started a list, he said, of issues that come to his attention from meetings like the one he had in Victoria.

Of course, any other year at this time, he'd be on his family farm harvesting crops, he said. The drought has put a pause on that, though, and it's added another unknown to what next year's legislature may have to confront.

"If this thing continues to next year, this will be the new drought of record," he said. "It's overwhelming. Therefore, where are we going? We don't know. Kind of like the economy - we don't know."

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