Although Representative James White and his colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives concluded the 84th Legislative Session six months ago, their conservative accomplishments will not be forgotten. In order to greater strengthen Texas over the next two years, Representative James White and Texas House Republicans focused on three critical areas: a fiscally sound spending plan, the infrastructure necessary to secure economic activity, and an educated workforce ready to meet our employment needs. Each were areas requiring heavy vetting and close consideration.
While Texas legislative sessions only last 140 days, the time Members of the Texas House and Senate met in Austin during 2015 was extremely successful and Representative White effectively contributed to this outcome. The Texas House maintained its fiscal discipline by passing a state budget that grew less than the rate of population and inflation, was below the constitutional spending cap and left more than $11 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Although the budget, House Bill 1, limited the state's overall spending, the budget provided additional funding for education, border security, transportation and child protection.
“I am very proud of the work we did this session. We came into session with a common set of goals to continue to boost our economy in Texas, improve public education through commonsense reform and to continue to keep Texans safe through increased border security. Whenever government can have a clear set of definable goals and focus on core government responsibilities, it is amazing what we can accomplish,” said Representative White.
Representing rural House District 19, Representative White recognizes the needs for infrastructure across the state. Infrastructure creates opportunities for greater economic prosperity and he understands that this is a safety issue that must be addressed. As a Member of the Select Committee on Transportation Planning, he and House Republicans made transportation a top priority this session without raising taxes, fees or tolls. Voters statewide recognized the demand for greater transportation infrastructure and ratified Proposition 7 in November 2015. This new law will dedicate $2.5 billion of state sales tax revenue to transportation. These statewide steps towards solid transportation infrastructure will have a substantial impact on building safer and faster local roads.
In reviewing his two terms sitting on the House Committee on Corrections, a committee with oversight of the state's criminal justice system, Representative James White has become a champion on making the Texas system more efficient and effective. Known for being tough on crime, Texas is a national leader in corrections at both the juvenile and adult levels and the committee diligently strives to keeps Texans safe. A topic of significant attention this session, Representative White and the Corrections Committee addressed the risks of over-criminalization and its impact on communities.
Representative White contributed notably to this discussion by filing House Bill 2398, a bill targeting the issue of keeping children in school. As a former teacher, Representative White saw firsthand that there were better ways of increasing school attendance than prosecuting students for truancy, which was a criminal offense under state law. HB 2398 remedied this issue by decriminalizing unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures in place.
“The issue of over criminalization touches so many facets of our society. It touches the issue of Constitutionality, compassion, traditional families and it has a significant fiscal impact. Over
criminalization is big government, and has a big impact on our communities, which is why I believe we must find solutions to this issue,” said Representative White.
Recently, House Speaker Joe Straus appointed Representative White to serve on the House Select Committee on Mental Health, which is charged with reviewing the state's behavioral health system for Texas children and adults. With increased concerns about the rise of mental health issues across the state, this committee is expected to make significant headway on this topic and will provide recommendations as to how the state combats mental illness. With a unique background in the military, education, and an interest in criminal justice, Representative White will surely have a noteworthy outlook on what mental health services can provide our returning combat veterans, juveniles and adults in our criminal justice system, and students in our public schools in the future.
Although some may think the task of being a public servant makes for a challenging lifestyle, Representative White has always had the honor of being involved in public service and perceives this as a very serious responsibility to his country and state. Prior to his tenure in the Texas House, he served in the United States Army, most notably from 1987-90 in the Berlin Brigade during the demise of the Soviet Union, and as a teacher at multiple academic levels. He eventually chose to run for office in order to restore conservative principled leadership.
As an elected House Representative, James White's proudest moments have been the opportunities to work with a broad base of legislators, from House Representatives to Senators, from rural to urban. In these efforts, he has contributed to the endeavors of the Texas House Republicans by crafting profound pieces of conservative legislation that positively affect Texans, both locally and statewide.