Odessa and Midland joined together today at the Texas State Capital to advocate for the needs of West Texas at the annual Midland And Odessa Legislative Days. Beginning early this morning elected officials and local advocates met with various state officials and held round table discussions to push for additional state support for the West Texas area. Odessa was represented by Odessa Mayor Javier Joven and City Council members Denise Swanner and Mark Matta and were joined by members of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce.
“West Texas can easily get forgotten in Austin if we aren’t constantly advocating for our area.” stated Mayor Joven. “Odessa and Midland provide a huge amount of wealth to the state via severance taxes but, because we don’t have the population base of say a Dallas or Houston, we often get shorted when it comes to state allocations. The reality is that energy production takes a huge toll on our infrastructure, and it is imperative that the State understand our needs to keep this money-making engine running which benefits the entire state.”
Specifically, the current expansion plans for Loop 338 were discussed. “Loop 338 has become a very important transportation through-way for Odessa and it is important that we continue to prioritize the improvements on the loop.” said Councilwoman Swanner. “Currently overpasses and a number of other long-term enhancements are underway, and we discussed how to continue to get state funding for this work.”
Also discussed were public school needs. Led by Senator Kevin Sparks much of the discussion centered around two key topics: funding, and student discipline. Senator Sparks is pushing for legislation that will allow schools new options in dealing with discipline issues within our schools. “While I am on the City Council and it’s the school board and not the City Council that deals with our schools, I found this discussion to be very important. I have kids in ECISD schools and I am very concerned about student discipline as unruly students hinder the ability of students that want to learn to focus on their work. I really hope Senator Sparks is able to introduce legislation that will give ECISD some new tools to deal with bad student behavior.” stated Councilman Mark Matta.
The Odessa delegation will be back at the State Capital tomorrow and then will travel home tomorrow afternoon.