MIDLOTHIAN — State Rep. Jim Pitts served as the keynote speaker for the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon held Wednesday at the Midlothian Conference Center.
Pitts provided chamber members with a recap of this year’s legislative session in Austin.
“We were in the legislature 210 days this last session. We started in January and finished in August. With my job as the chairman of the appropriations I really started in September of last year. So if you haven’t seen me too much it’s because I have been working in Austin on the budget,” Pitts said. “Instead of having a $28 million shortfall like we had in the session before, we came in the door where we had an $8 billion surplus. I was able to successfully pass a budget that was nearly unanimous on the house floor.”
Pitts said a lot of people in the legislature wanted to break the spending limit, which is not hard to do because all you need is 76 votes out of 150. Pitts told his fellow legislators that breaking the spending limit is something that he would not support — or sign a bill that would do so.
In the previous session, cuts were made both to education and to health and human services.
Through his efforts Pitts was able to create a 24-month budget for education and added several billion dollars to its budget.
“We were able to pass everything and I was really proud of the budget because my background is in education,” Pitt said. “Having been on the school board, it really disturbed me that we cut education before.”
Pitts also worked a lot on the education policy in the last session. Pitts had heard many times that standardized testing needed to be reduced in public schools. One of the ways to get the conversation started on reducing testing is that he zero-funded testing. Through the legislative process the number of end of course exams a student has to take was reduced from 15 to five.
Another area that Pitts and legislators focused their efforts was pension reform.
“A lot of states are changing up their pensions. We had some people that wanted to change it up in Texas, and it would have really done away with pensions for our state employees,” Pitt said. “We were able to budget more money, especially for teachers, to make their retirement actuarially sound. That had been the first time the fund had been actually sound in years. Retired teachers are now going to be able to get a cost of living raise.”
Pitts has served the residents of District 10, which includes Ellis and Hill Counties, as the state representative since 1992. And, he has practiced law in Waxahachie for the past 36 years, specializing in general and real estate law. He is the owner of Ellis County Abstract and title Company.
On Thursday, Aug. 22, Pitts announced that he was retiring from legislature after representing District 10 for the past 20 years. Pitts expressed his thanks for the opportunity to serve the community to the audience gathered at the Midlothian Conference Center. He said that even though he will be retired from public service he will not be far away.
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