Craddick wanting to pass GROW Texas

State Rep. Tom Craddick looks forward to next year’s legislative session as another chance to pass his oil- and natural gas-related GROW Texas bill, which was OK’d by a heavy majority in the Texas House of Representatives two years ago, but didn’t come to a vote in the Senate before the regular session ended.

Aimed at benefiting all the state’s energy-producing areas, the “Generate Reoccurring Oil Wealth” bill has broad appeal because all but 23 of Texas’ 254 counties have at least some oil and-or gas, Craddick said.

Referring to the $27-billion surplus Comptroller Glenn Hegar is predicting, the Midland Republican said it will be a tough go. “It’s harder with money than it is without because everybody is wanting new buildings and new programs,” he said.

Noting that funding and planning are well underway for a new $95-million, 100-bed mental health hospital near the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center between Odessa and Midland, Craddick said the project that’s being co-sponsored by the Ector and Midland County hospital districts “is ahead of the game” because mental health treatment will be a theme in both houses of the 88th Legislature in Austin. The House has 150 members and the Senate 31.

Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, was also involved in the bill to fund the behavioral health center.

“GROW Texas would bring a percentage of the Rainy Day Fund to the Permian Basin each year for health, schools and roads,” the Midland Republican said. “It has passed the House twice, in 2021 by over 120 votes.

“Speaker Dade Phelan is all for it and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick has been out here several times. We need millions just for roads. A lot of the Basin is rural and we are desperately in need of more roads.”

Hegar says the Texas Economic Stabilization or Rainy Day Fund will have a $13.6-billion balance at the end of this fiscal year, but it requires a three-quarters vote in both houses to be accessed.

Craddick said the “Robin Hood” school funding system whereby oil country districts must give part of their money to poorer districts “has a lot of people who don’t like it and we’re looking for ways to lower property taxes.”

He said expanding Midland College’s physicians’ assistants’ training program to graduate 120 PAs annually through the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is also high on his agenda.