State Sen. Bryan Hughes touted Texas' economy and spoke about limiting local property taxes in a speech to the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Hughes, R-Mineola, spoke during a members-only luncheon at the Texas-side Convention Center, touching on topics he expects to be significant in the state legislative session set to convene next year.
Texas' economy is booming in part because government protects the free market, controls spending and keeps taxes low, Hughes said. He claimed without citing sources that between 2007 and 2017, 24 percent of new jobs in the United States were created in Texas. The state's unemployment rate is at its lowest in 43 years, and from 2012 to 2016, 540,000 more people moved into Texas than left, he said.
The energy sector is an important factor in the state's economy, Hughes said.
"We're all in the oil business," he said, referring to recent U.S. "energy dominance." The nation exports 10 million barrels of oil a day, and half of those come from Texas, he said.
Hughes said he expects the legislature to limit the growth of local property taxes and spend more state money on public education—a change made possible in part by increased tax revenues generated in the energy sector. Teachers could get an across-the-board pay raise, as well as merit raises for the best performers, he said.
Ensuring election integrity, especially as relates to mail-in ballots, is also on Hughes' legislative agenda for 2019. He also has his eye on a bill that would hold any state agency responsible for a citizen's legal fees if the agency is found to have pursued a frivolous action against them.
Hughes served for 14 years in the Texas House of Representatives before his election to the state Senate in 2016. He represents District 1, which comprises 16 counties in Northeast Texas including Bowie County. His term expires in 2020. He chairs the Senate's Select Committee on Election Security and serves as vice chairman of its State Affairs Committee.