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Waxahachie Daily Light: Second Session Possible. House panel to meet on school finance bill
Waxahachie Daily Light: House passes stripped finance bill. Pitts’ feelings not hurt by loss of VLT proposal
Waxahachie Daily Light: Pitts helping draft plan
Waxahachie Daily Light: Jim Pitts Endorsement
Waxahachie Daily Light: Rep. Pitts announces campaign
February 22, 2006
Texas Forestry Association PAC Endorses Pitts
February 21, 2006
Texas Association of Business Endorses Pitts
February 20, 2006
Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas Endorse Pitts
Texas Construction Association PAC Endorses Representative Jim Pitts
February 16, 2006
Department of Public Safety Officers Association
Texas Society of Professional Engineers Endorses Pitts
February 14, 2006
Texas Public Employees Association Endorses Pitts
February 10, 2006
Texas Association of Realtors
February 7, 2006
Texas Municipal Police Association
February 1, 2006
Texas State Association Fire Fighters
January 19, 2006
National Rifle Association Endorses Pitts
Texas State Rifle Association Endorses Pitts
January 11, 2006
Texas' Largest Pro-Life Groups Endorse Jim Pitts for Re-Election
January 5, 2006
Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC Endorses Jim Pitts for Re-Election
December 7, 2005
State Rep. Jim Pitts Files for Re-election
May 19, 2004
Representative Pitts Appointed to House Working Group on School Finance
State Representative Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) was honored recently by the Texas Medical Association when he was named one of Texas Medicine’s Best Legislators and chosen to receive the Patiente Protectorae Award. The presentation was made during the TMA’s Grassroots Summit held in San Antonio.
“We honor Representative Pitts for being a strong advocate in preventing numerous cuts to medical higher education programs,” said Dan McCoy, chair of the TEXPAC Board of Directors. “His commitment to a strong health care system in Texas was evident during the 78th Legislative Session, and we appreciate his leadership and support of efforts to improve the practice environment for physicians.
“This is very meaningful to me, “ stated Mr. Pitts. “I realize how vital good health care is to the lives of all Texans, and I will continue to work to ensure that we protect patient access to care.”
Representative Pitts has served in the Texas Legislature since 1993, and he is currently serving on the House Appropriations Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the Select Committee on Public School Finance.
State Representative Jim Pitts was recently honored by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) with their Leader of Excellence Award. The presentation was made at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. Dr. Carol McDonald of ICUT made the presentation.
"Representative Pitts was instrumental in securing funding for the colleges and universities of Texas even during a year when there was a $10 billion shortfall in the state’s revenues," stated Dr. McDonald. "The members of ICUT feel he is a true friend to higher education in Texas, and chose him to receive this special award for his commitment to Texas’ colleges and universities."
Representative Pitts, on receiving this special recognition, said, "I realize how important education is to the future of Texas and Texans. I will continue my endeavor to assist our institutions of higher learning to provide the best educational opportunities to our college students."
Representative Pitts served as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Education of the House Appropriations Committee during the 78th Legislative Session. It was that subcommittee’s responsibility to write the budget for the next biennium that involves both public education and higher education in Texas.
State Representative Jim Pitts, District 10, has been named one of two recipients of the "Outstanding Legislator" Award by the Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA). Mr. Pitts will accept the award at the association’s annual convention to be held in Fort Worth in February, 2004.
"This is truly a wonderful honor, and I am very appreciative to be recognized by the TCCTA," said Mr. Pitts. "This is the largest organization of postsecondary educators in Texas, and I thank them for honoring me for my work during the 78th Legislative Session."
TCCTA is comprised of faculty, counselors, librarians, and administrators from all 80 of the Texas Public and Independent two-year colleges. Both Hill College and Navarro College, located in House District 10, have members of the association.
"Mr. Pitts is being acknowledged for his consistent support of community college education and his outstanding cooperation in the legislative endeavors of community colleges," stated Richard Moore, executive director of TCCTA. "Mr. Pitts joins a prestigious list of former recipients of this award, including the late Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock."
The annual convention of TCCTA is the largest gathering of community college faculty in the United States. The Association receives wide acclaim for its fairness, integrity, and professionalism in representing the interests of its members and their colleges.
The Texas Association of Business (TAB) has released its voting record for members of the 78th regular session of the Texas Legislature. State Representative Jim Pitts of District 10 received a perfect score of 100% support of TAB issues. Among the 150 state representatives, there were only two who scored at 100%. Because of his scoring so well, Mr. Pitts has been termed a "Fighter for Free Enterprise." TAB believes that Texans should know how their legislators vote on business issues that strengthen this state’s economy and create more good paying jobs for Texans.
"This is a honor for me," stated Mr. Pitts. "I am very supportive of the issues that will have a profound effect on businesses and the persons impacted by legislative action."
TAB President Bill Hammond issued this statement regarding the results of their scorecard. "As a watchdog for the businesspeople of Texas, TAB believes that the Legislature must be accountable for its actions. By tallying votes effecting the business climate and then publishing that record, we believe that employers will have an accurate measure of the effectiveness of their legislators."
The scorecard, which is the only one of its kind in Texas, grades lawmakers from 0 to 100 based on a series of votes effecting the business climate during this year’s legislative session. The average score in the Senate was 64, and 55 in the House. Any legislator with a score of 80 or better is recognized as "Fighter for Free Enterprise." A score below 60 is what TAB considers a weak vote - not making the grade for Texans.
"A weak business voting record should be cause for concern, particularly among lawmakers’ constituents," Hammond said. "If a constituent wants a clear picture how his or her legislator is voting on broad-based business issues, this is the scorecard to consult."
"I respect the work TAB does in our state," said Representative Pitts. "Texas is dependent on a strong economy, and legislation passed in Austin does have a direct bearing on the business climate. I try to keep that in mind when I cast my votes on the floor of the House. I am, especially, proud to be called a Fighter for Free Enterprise because I realize that signifies that I am committed to improving the economic prosperity of all Texans."
TAB’s voting record is available for viewing and printing at www.txbiz.org. TAB represents 140,000 employers and is widely regarded as the voice of the Texas business community.
September 22, 2003
State Representative Jim Pitts has been honored in two Texas publications for his outstanding work during the 78th Legislative Session. Realtor Magazine named Mr. Pitts to the Texas Associations of Realtors’ 2003 Honor Roll in its August issue. Texas Agriculture in its July issue listed the Ellis/Hill County representative as one of its 12 Stars for Rural Texas. This publication, which is published by Texas Farm Bureau for commercial farmers and ranchers, cited Mr. Pitts for helping "protect a number of measures that are important," to agriculture, such as the Texas Cooperative Extension Service.
"I am honored to have been chosen by these two groups and being mentioned in their publications," stated Pitts. "The regular legislative session presented many tough, important issues, and I feel we passed some good legislation."
Issues that the Association of Realtors were supporting included homeowners insurance reform. Mr. Pitts said, "Meaningful insurance reform has been a long time coming for the citizens of Texas. Lowering homeowners insurance rates was a major issue in the 78th session, and it is something I am proud to have supported."
Texas Farm Bureau called Representative Pitts a "friend of agriculture" because of his support of issues of importance to the agriculture industry in Texas. "My family realizes what an integral part of Texas’ past, present, and future agriculture is," said Pitts. "I have been, and will continue to be, supportive of issues that benefit our state’s farmers and ranchers."
Representative Pitts has served in the Texas Legislature since 1993. He currently is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the Redistricting Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. He is, also, serving on the Select Committee on Public School Finance, where he chairs the Subcommittee on High School.
SAGU Receives $150,000 Technology Grant
According to State Representative Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie has received a $150,000 state grant to complete the automation of their library. SAGU is one of 74 four-year colleges and universities in Texas receiving Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board (TIFB) grants to enhance advanced technology capabilities.
Rep. Pitts to Lead State Technology Committee
"I am thrilled that Rep. Pitts was selected for this task. He worked with this same community on Year 2000 issues and was an insightful and effective leader. He was clear in his mission and always available. I am looking forward to his continued leadership on technology issues," said Purcell.
An Open Letter to the Citizens of Ellis County
Despite the tremendous population growth and road traffic that we have seen on Hwy 287, we would have been years from receiving funding because of the growth seen in areas such as Collin and Denton counties. However, the ingenuity and fortitude of Ellis County citizens allowed us to receive these strategic funds...
Rick Perry Visits Waxahachie, September 11, 2001
"I am pleased that Governor Perry is taking time from his busy schedule to come to Ellis County. Rather than making a formal speech, the Governor will utilize this time to simply visit with our citizens and hear how we can improve state government," said Pitts.
May 2, 2004
Property Tax Relief and School Finance: How Do We Pay?
It's been a few weeks since I last updated you on the debate in Austin over school finance. I'd hoped to update you sooner, but as you're all well aware, the Legislature has been called back into special session to tackle this complex issue, and I've spent the better part of the last five weeks in Austin serving on the House Select Committee and meeting with the Speaker, Governor and other members.
I'm sure many of you have read about some of the proposals the committee has heard to raise more money for public education and property tax relief, including my own proposal to legalize video lottery terminals at limited locations in the state. I'm sure many of you have mixed reactions to these proposals, and justifiably so. Nobody likes to consider increasing taxes or encouraging behavior many of us object to. So I'd like to discuss these proposals in detail, and explain why we're giving them such serious consideration. But first, I'd like to make clear the problems we're facing:
Property taxes in this state are too high. They place an overwhelming burden on hard working people struggling to simply maintain their most important investment. Owning a home is the American dream, but skyrocketing appraisal rates - and the resulting increase in annual tax bills - are forcing many people to reconsider whether owning a home will ever be a possibility. And for current homeowners, keeping up with the growing tax burden is forcing many people to consider selling a house they raised a family in and considered home for years.
The Robin Hood school finance scheme has outlived whatever usefulness it has had. Despite your opinion on the merits of property-wealthy school districts sharing money with property-poor districts - and every school district in Ellis and Hill counties benefit from this system - the reality is that this system is broken, and needs to be fixed or replaced. The state's share of public education funding is unacceptably low, and has forced almost every school district to near the $1.50 constitutional cap on property taxes.
Finally, our public schools and school teachers need more money. Maintaining the status quo is not an option. The $10 billion shortfall we faced last regular session forced us to make painful cuts in funding our schools and paying for the teacher health insurance stipend. Clearly, there are ways to maximize cost-savings in our schools. But anyone who says we can find the money we need for our schools by making a few cuts, increasing class sizes, and laying off teachers simply doesn't truly care about the value of our public school system.
So where does that put us? As I've said repeatedly, if we're going to address this issue, we have to do it without hesitation and completely. We have to have a cut in property taxes of at least .50 cents, bringing the rate down to $1.00. That is my number one priority, and something that has guided many of the decisions I've made in looking at alternative sources of revenue. But cutting property taxes that amount costs billions, more than $5 billion per year. Eliminating Robin Hood, but making sure that poorer school districts in the state don't automatically suffer even more, requires even more money, nearly $1 billion more. Finally, raising the state's share of education costs billions more. Add this up, and we're faced with finding several billion dollars per year - and that's before any new money is put into education.
We've looked at a variety of revenue options. Many are tax increases, while other are options to expand existing revenue items in this state - like the lottery - to add more dollars. By the time you read this, the Select Committee will have voted on a bill that would make a variety of changes to what you pay tax on.
The proposal that will be debated on the House floor contains a modest increase in the sales tax (approximately .5 percent), adds a few items not currently covered under the sales tax - such as newspapers and magazine subscriptions, and increases the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack. This proposal also includes a $1 per ticket surcharge on tickets to events such as amusement parks, concerts, and professional sporting events. It also includes a modest tax on payroll, applied at 1.25 percent or $500 per employee - whichever costs the business less.
But all of these items combined do not provide enough money for a substantial property tax reduction, an elimination of Robin Hood, and new money for public education. That is why I, reluctantly, proposed the state authorize the use of video lottery terminals at a limited number of locations. Let me be clear about what this proposal does and does not do. Yes, this proposal allows existing horse and dog tracks, and three Indian casinos to operate these machines. The state would collect 60 percent of the revenues, on top of licensing fees of $100,000 per facility and $25,000 per machine - an estimated $4 billion for the first biennium dedicated solely to the education of the children of Texas. This proposal does not allow unlimited, uncontrollable gambling in this state. The so called "8-liners" many of you have heard about are outlawed under this proposal; operating them would be a felony. Furthermore, video lottery terminals would only be allowed at these existing facilities, no others. This proposal would not allow full-scale, Las Vegas-style casinos across the state, or in your community.
Offering this proposal brings me little satisfaction or joy. But we have to face some realities. People are already gambling at these facilities in Texas. Texans spend millions every day gambling in neighboring states. It only seems logical that we keep as much of this revenue in the state as possible, under strictly controlled conditions. Personally, I am not a fan of these machines or gambling in general. But people will continue to seek out these forms of entertainment. Hopefully, the billions this proposal would generate will go a long way towards improving this state's public education system.
I wish I could tell you there was a simple, clear-cut answer to lowering our property taxes, ending Robin Hood, and providing more money to public schools that makes everyone happy. Unfortunately, I don't think that's possible. I wish I could tell you we could reduce property taxes, give more money to schools, and never even consider some of these proposals. But this issue is too complicated, and too costly to solve without making some difficult decisions. You didn't elect me to duck the hard issues and base my votes on what will please the most number of people. You elected me to be your voice in Austin, offer realistic solutions to tough problems, and when necessary, make difficult decisions. I don't think you expect anything less.
2001: A Year to Remember
If 2000 seemed uneventful, we know that 2001 has certainly moved to the forefront as one of those years that will be spoken of in the decades to come...
A Worthy Calling
Her hair is piled atop her head and she is typically wearing a high buttoned dress. She presides over her one-room classroom with firmness while smiling sweetly; and yes, one of her tow-headed, freckle-faced students is handing her an apple. Norman Rockwell could have painted it. Teachers and apples. The Three R's. A good old American education.
Ellis County Press
Links to additional District 10 newspapers coming soon.
Political advertising paid for by Jim Pitts Campaign, Sam Meade, Treasurer, 310 W. Jefferson, Suite 2, Waxahachie, TX 75165.