Chairman Perkins has High Hopes for Funding Local Projects
On opening day of the State of Texas’ 84th Legislature, Hobby Area Management District (HAMD) Chairman Danny Perkins had an experience afforded to very few people. Chairman Perkins was invited to Austin by Texas Senator Sylvia Garcia of District 6, Representative Garnet Coleman of District 146, and Representative Sylvester Turner of District 139, but it was Turner who arranged for him to have access to the floor of the legislative chamber on the day new legislators are sworn in. This is a restricted privilege usually granted only to legislators and their families, and Perkins said was honored to have been there. “Being down there and actually being able to interact with so many legislators at one time––it was really exciting,” Perkins said. “I saw so many people making the rounds meeting with the various leaders of committees––they hit the ground running on the first day. To be able to see all of that up close was very intriguing.” During the session, newly elected Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made a point to say that infrastructure would be a priority during this 140-day legislative session, a point echoed later in a private meeting with Garcia, Perkins said. He also met with representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to discuss Hobby Area roadway projects that might qualify for some of the $1.2 billion in funds approved by voters in November as part of the bond referendum known as Proposition 1, the Texas Transportation Funding Amendment. Of that $1.2 billion, $275 million is earmarked for funding projects in the Houston area in 2015. Perkins said he didn’t talk dollars with the TXDOT representatives, but would like to see the HAMD get a piece of that $275 million pie for roadway improvements on Telephone Road, Bellfort, Monroe, and Almeda Genoa. Senator Garcia serves on the Senate Transportation Committee, and may have a role in some of those decisions, Perkins said. He reported that she told him she is optimistic that transportation and infrastructure issues will take a front seat during this legislative session. The senator, he said, also told him it’s essential for local business and industry leaders to actively engage with their legislators to make reiterate the importance of HAMD’s infrastructure needs and to make sure those projects are “in the pot” for the funding that will be available. While in Austin, Perkins also had a conversation with Representative Coleman about the proposed expansion of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 8 (TIRZ), which would include parts of HAMD. This expansion could potentially provide yet another revenue source for roadway improvements, he added.