State Representative Ken King (R-Canadian) is seeking his sixth term representing District 88.
During his time in Austin, King has served on several committees, including the Public Education Committee, who recently reformed how school districts receive their state funding.
“House Bill 3 is what the governor (Greg Abbott) termed as a ‘Blue Ribbon’ Panel, a commission to study school finance,” King said. “It took place in 2018, I was a member of that committee.
“It produced House Bill 3 in 2019, and took old school finance formulas and threw them in the trash and added $11.5 billion to public education, which brought the State’s portion from 36 to 46 percent in school funding. Which was a huge stride as far as property tax relief goes.”
As for curriculum and critical race theory in Texas schools? King said the legislature voted to ban it in public schools and said he doesn’t believe any Texas Panhandle schools were teaching it.
King said there is always “more work” to do on school finance but House Bill 3 was a good start.
King has also recently served on the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee, which he noted was the only function of the State government that did well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Anything outside filled up,” King said. “Even to this day at state parks it’s hard to get a reservation, unless you do it months in advance.
“We were able to hold numerous hearings that helped tourism and passed a number bills that spurred economic development whether it was funding for our state parks or those kind of programs or bring events into Texas through the Enterprise Fund that is managed by the Governor’s Office. It gives reimbursement funds to big things like the National Finals Rodeo or the Super Bowl and other one-time events.”
King said the small towns in the Panhandle did well during the pandemic, especially towns like Levelland, which has an event center.
“They are near the New Mexico border and when the New Mexico Governor shut them down completely, they brought rodeos and football games,” King said. “Everything they couldn’t play in their state, they brought it here. Those were all economic drivers.”
Casinos and online sports betting are topics that are always discussed during the legislative session, but never pass.
“The biggest push right now is from the (Las Vegas) Sands group out in Nevada and they want to let our citizens in November to vote whether it should or shouldn’t be allowed,” King said. “Their initiative is resort-style, so you wouldn’t be able to open a casino in just any old building.
“My personal opinion on that is that letting the citizens vote on it is a really good idea. I think if we made that sort of change to our Constitution, every legal citizen in Texas has a right to vote on that. My personal opinion is I don’t see where it would help Pampa. Even if we passed that I don’t think Harrah’s (Casino group) would make Pampa a destination area. But I do think it would really help the Gulf Coast and eventually the Metroplexes.”
King added that there is money left on the table by not having casinos and online sports betting, but enough to fix school finance or other areas where legislators have to “hunt money” for.
King is also on the House Research Organization (HRO), which takes a bi-partisan look at bills.
“Every bill that makes it to the House floor, the HRO is tasked with looking at just the facts,” King said. “There is no spin to it, no matter what the bill does.
“This is what the bill says, what it does, what the people who testify for it say, what the people who testify against it say, their reasons why they are for or against it and just the facts. Our mission is to get all 150 House members to look at a bill that maybe they haven’t look at or read and have just the facts.”
King said securing the border is the No. 1 priority for the legislature.
“Texas first started taking on border security as a mission during my first session in 2013 and created the border surge,” King said. “Essentially we had about 7,000 illegals coming through our borders in 2013 and during the border surge, we got that down to 1,000.
“Even under the Obama Administration there were detention centers, a wall being built and other than the federal government not paying the bill, Texas and other border states were making strides, particularly under President Trump.
“We really got a handle on who was coming across the border and why. Under the Biden Administration, all of that work has been undone. It’s a plague on the citizens of Texas.”
King noted it’s the crime and trafficking along the border that makes securing the border a priority.
“The migrants you see on the news, that’s one problem,” King said. “Drugs are another problem. But truly, trafficking is the biggest problem. All of these Cartels, gangs and groups figured out a few years ago, and I’m being blunt here, that you can sell a bag of dope once but you can sell a little girl 20 times from coast to coast.
“Those kind of people coming across the border don’t just go along the interstates hitting big cities because we’re pretty good at spotting them. They come along the back roads and through our little communities every day.”
King added he voted for $3 billion in border security and will continue to do that.
When asked if King feels like it’s the job of the State to get broadband internet widely distributed to rural communities, King said he does.
“The Universal Service Fund was set up as a subsidy is the reason people in rural areas aren’t talking on party lines and practically sending smoke signals,” King said. “The reason for that is our region west of Interstate 35 produce food, fuel and fiber. If we can’t get food, fuel and fiber to the big cities they don’t have anything to wear, eat and they can’t drive. Is it the responsibility of the State to help rural Texas be competitive in the 21st Century? If they want to eat it is.
“The Feds changed their Universal Service Fund to include broadband internet, but Texas never has.”
King added House Bill 5 was written to include promoting rural broadband and to bring in billions of federal matching dollars over the next 10 years to remedy the lack of funding for broadband.
“The Universal Service Fund is still viable because it’s what we have now. We have to get that thing back up and running and take care of the local co-ops providing the limited service we have now until the day we do have fiber.”
In closing, King emphasized that he is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-education.
“My whole point is our kids are our greatest natural resources and if you want small communities to thrive, you’ve got to create jobs and opportunities for our kids to come back here,” King said. “Without an educated workforce, that’s impossible. I’m going to continue to work on those things (his stances) like I have the last 10 years.”
King noted his District has been changed some, losing Hansford, Ochiltree, Lipscomb and Armstrong Counties. But he gained Wheeler, Childress, Collingsworth and Hall Counties.
For more information on Ken King, visit www.KingForTexas.com or stop by his District office in Pampa at 134 N. Price Road.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here