SAN JUAN, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley has never received its fair share of state dollars and it is time for the Texas Legislature to put that right, says Julian Castro.

The former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary was asked by a reporter for his views on a lack of investment in the Valley at a recent rally hosted by La Unión del Pueblo.

“Throughout the history of Texas the Valley of Texas has been a wonderful culturally rich special place in so many ways. It has also been shortchanged for generations. The Valley has not been invested in, whether you are talking about public hospitals, public universities, the schools, the roads. It has been shortchanged as other parts of the state of Texas has been invested in,” Castro said.

“The answer is not to not invest in other parts of the state, it is actually to do what should have been done a long time ago. Because the Valley has been shortchanged, including with hospitals and public health, there was a much greater outbreak (of COVID-19) here in the Valley than in other parts of the state.”

Castro said the same is true of El Paso.

“It is not an accident that two hardest hit COVID spots over the past few months have been the Valley and El Paso. There is a common story there for border communities. So, the Texas Legislature starts today. The Texas Legislature needs to get off its ass and actually start investing in the Valley of Texas when it comes to higher education, public education, hospitals and public health, the roads down here, the people of this Valley.”

Castro made his comments on the day the 87th Legislature was gaveled in. 

“We are coming to a day in Texas where the people will not accept, can no longer accept the gross indifference of the state when it comes to the Valley of Texas,” he added.

Laredo-based Blas Castañeda, a former executive committee member for the Texas Border Coalition, agreed with Castro’s assessment. He said the lack of investment by the state extends to other parts of the border, not just the Valley.

“If we would do an assessment of the type of revenues bring in, we bring in billions of dollars but when it gets to Austin and Washington, D.C., it does not come back. We get tens of thousands of trucks passing through our border region each day but there is not enough infrastructure. We need two more lanes on I-35, for example. The border never gets its fair share of the revenues it generates,” Castañeda said.

Castañeda, a former educator, said the border region is producing incredibly talented students but too many of them are having to leave the region in order to get the best paying jobs.

“We are producing the kids. In order to keep them here we have to got to reinvest the funds we provide for the rest of the country.”

Valley legislators getting down to work

State Rep. Alex Dominguez is sworn into office for the 87th Legislature

The Valley’s current legislators say they are working hard to get funding to the region.

“I am committed to working with my colleagues to bring forth practical solutions that will help our economy recover from the pandemic, ensure increased access to affordable health care for our most vulnerable, protect the commitment to public education funding for our students and teachers, and to support police reform that makes our communities safer. Above all, I will work to make Texas a better place to live and raise our families,” said state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen.

State Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City said that although the current legislative session is being consumed with COVID-19, the state budget, and redistricting challenges, he is working to create jobs, revitalize towns, protect investments in the public school system, ensure good healthcare, service the needs of the region’s veterans, and keep local communities safe.

“This is a crucial time for the State of Texas,” Guillen said. “With the slew of unprecedented challenges we face encompassing everything imaginable due to the pandemic, I am looking forward to working with the members of this legislature, no matter their political affiliation, to help tackle the important issues facing Texas.”

State Rep. Alex Dominguez of Brownsville said he is listening to the needs of his constituents.

“I have listened to you all and will work with all my colleagues to put Texans’ priorities first and not partisan politics. With the election of a new Speaker of the House and a wave of new members entering the House and Senate, we have an amazing opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation to counter the crises facing our state and improve the lives of all Texans,” Dominguez said.

“Each session brings new challenges and new opportunities, and this year is no different. With COVID-19 attacking our healthcare systems, our economy, and our community, Texas is being tested like never before. The task ahead of us is clear, and we must prevail. We will muster our resolve, our ingenuity, and join together with colleagues from across the state to meet these challenges.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Julian Castro at a rally hosted recently in San Juan, Texas, by La Unión del Pueblo.

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