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U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith visits Buda, talks economy, space

by Brett Thorne
April 30, 2013

On April 29, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, spoke to residents and city leaders at Buda City Hall about the Central Texas economy, sequestration, space exploration and more.

Smith said the Central Texas economy is outperforming the rest of the Texas economy, which is outperforming the rest of the nation. Smith pointed to Central Texas’ 5.4 percent unemployment rate—which is about a point lower than that of the state and almost two points lower than the national average—as an indicator of the health of the region’s economy.

“Whatever you’re doing here, keep doing it,” Smith said.

On April 26, Congress voted to end the sequester-related furloughs that caused delays at airports throughout the nation. Smith said he suspected Congress would find a similar solution for the nation’s contract air traffic controllers, whose jobs are only funded through June 15.

“My hunch is wait a couple of months, and you’ll have a more permanent solution,” Smith said. “Nothing is permanent in a world where you live with annual budgets. When you’re talking about the safety of the American people, nobody better mess with that.”

Smith was appointed chairman of the Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology in 2012 after winning re-election to the District 21 seat he has held since 1987. As chairman of the committee, Smith is at the head of the organization responsible for exploration and control of outer space.

Smith praised the work of NASA and the Kepler Telescope in expanding human understanding of the universe, but he said there were no immediate plans to go back to the moon.

“In order to go back to the moon, it has to be a priority of the [presidential] administration and NASA,” Smith said. Smith said. “Right now the debate is whether it’s back to the moon or to an asteroid. If we decide to go back to the moon, it’s probably 10 years away.”

Among the public officials in attendance were City Manager Kenneth Williams, Assistant City Manager Brian Laborde and Mayor Todd Ruge.

“The congressman and the staff are still accepting my calls,” Ruge said. “They know every time I talk to them I’m going to tell them the two things Buda really needs. We need help with transportation, and we would love a COPS Grant.”

Growth in Buda has necessitated upgrades to many roads within the city. Some of those needs would be addressed by a proposed partnership between Hays County and the city, which could be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in May.

COPS Grants are awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, an office of the Department of Justice, and can go toward funding for full-time police officer positions.

The April 29 talk was the third time in six months Smith has trekked to Buda. His district includes most of Buda and western Hays County.
“We realize we’re just a small slice of your pie, and we do really appreciate you coming out and doing forums like this,” Ruge said.

Source: http://impactnews.com/