FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2008
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our blessings and to share a feast with family and friends. These tough economic times may find many in South Texas and throughout the country doing without or with a lot less during the holidays.
This year, I encourage everyone to practice volunteerism, generosity and frugality so that we can weather the challenges our nation is facing.
I commend the untiring efforts of our charitable and religious communities for the tremendous roles they are playing to alleviate hunger and suffering. Our business community should also be commended for its zeal to contribute voluntarily. For example, HEB hosts an annual Feast of Sharing, and this year 250,000 hot meals will be served by volunteers in a total of 22 Texas cities, along with six "Posadas" in Mexico.
Another business with a commendable record of giving is Keppel AmFELS, Inc. This year the company donated $20,000 to the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank, which translates into more than 100,000 meals.
While it is heartwarming to witness the spirit of giving in our region, the tremendous and growing need still tugs at my heart strings.
During the upcoming legislative session in January, I am committed to securing dollars that provide needed services to those who are struggling or suffering. I also feel it my duty to ensure that tax dollars are properly directed and funding cuts that hurt the neediest of Texans do not pass muster.
For example, we must be cautious in proposing property tax limits by alternating them with higher sales taxes. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, my concern that such a proposal may create a regressive tax that disproportionately affects low-income people to the point that they lose practically all buying power will guide my decisions.
Another area of need is health care. My son, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, and I, in our respective Chambers, have filed bills that would establish the University of Texas Health Science Center-South Texas. This area is long overdue for a medical school and health-related degree programs to train our local residents to not only study at home but stay and set up medical practices to expand health services.
Last year, working with my son, we were finally able to legislatively remove 10 years of bureaucratic hurdles and approve $10 million for renovations to the South Texas Health Care System clinic in Harlingen. In a faltering economy where competition for funding is at an all-time high, we can be thankful for a project that will expand and improve health care delivery for the indigent.
Times are not just tough, but they're changing and moving rapidly, hopefully toward a better future.
On Nov. 4, we held a presidential election, and soon after, on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, we celebrated the heroes who have risked and offered their lives to secure our precious right to vote.
On Jan. 13, we begin the 81st Legislative Session in Texas, and on Jan. 20, my own birthday, we usher in a new Administration in Washington.
Thankfully, all of this is possible in a democracy protected by our military men and women of past and present. Our American soldiers are fighting an unpopular war in Iraq, and thousands more are stationed in other foreign countries, including in war-ravaged places like Afghanistan. Yet because of them and their predecessors, we can all agree to be thankful for the liberty they have fought and died for.
This Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to encourage the people of District 27 to thank our service men and women and their loved ones who endure their absences, injuries and losses with almost equal bravery.
And I ask for prayers of guidance and support for our U.S. President-elect and his Cabinet, all of our regional and local elected officials, especially those newly elected, my fellow legislators and for me.
My Family and I wish everyone in Senate District 27 a safe, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving Day!