Stimulus Funding Climbs to Top of Austin's Agenda

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

We are more than halfway through the Texas Legislative Session and it's clear one issue stands out above all the rest: stimulus funding.

It has taken the reigns and even causing some session delays. We spoke with West Texas' newest representative Tryon Lewis to find out exactly where things stand.

Just this session alone there's been over 6,000 bills filed in Austin. With a table full of hot topics it's the federal stimulus package that's sitting on top. House member Tryon Lewis represents Ector, Andrews, and Winkler counties. We spoke with him to find out how that stimulus money is impacting our Texas lawmakers.

"It's very difficult," Lewis said. "It's a lot of money. It's over $16 billion. We don't want to waste any taxpayers money so we're working on it pretty hard."

Lewis tells us the money has meant many late nights and more attention devoted to figuring out what to do.

"Getting the info on where the money has to go and what strings are attached to the money, I would say is the hardest thing," Lewis said. "To be sure we know what we're doing and we don't do what the Federal Congress did which was just to throw money after a problem."

"The effect of the stimulus package will probably be that we're not making some cuts we need to make," Representative Lewis said. "Trimming back some programs we ought to trim back because we have that money and it makes it easier to take the easy route and not make the tough decisions. It means, next session we won't have stimulus money, we'll still have the problems, and we will not have addressed them. That's the danger in the stimulus package."

Lewis says right now these stimulus concerns are consuming an increasing amount of the legislature's time.

"I think most of the stimulus money is probably money that is not going to go to stop the recession," Representative Lewis said. "I think that a lot of the money we're spending - we're just spending money to spend money and it's not going to be wisely spent."