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Newsletter: A Good Year for Texas

As we enter the final few weeks of 2015, I want to again say thank you for your support over the last 12 months. It's been an outstanding year for our community and the Texas House, and it is an honor to serve on your behalf.

Much has happened this year, including a productive legislative session and the passage of some important amendments to our state Constitution. Before we head into 2016, I'd like to recall a few highlights from the work of the Texas House over the past 12 months:

We kept our fiscal house in order. The House balanced the state budget and kept annual spending growth under 2 percent. We also cut more than $4 billion in taxes and fees, including a 25 percent reduction in the business margins tax. Texas remains on sound fiscal footing.

We improved educationThe House put additional resources into our local classrooms. We overwhelmingly approved Governor Abbott's plan to strengthen and support high-quality pre-kindergarten. We continued our efforts to better prepare students for productive careers in a changing economy, and we funded new facilities at schools like UTSA and Texas A&M-San Antonio for the first time in nearly a decade.

We prioritized border security. The House made a historic investment in border security, authorizing the hiring of hundreds of new state troopers to patrol the border region. We also gave police and prosecutors new tools to better combat crimes such as drug trafficking and human smuggling.

We focused on traffic relief. Traffic is not easy to address in a fast-growing state, but the House took a number of steps to provide more resources for transportation without raising taxes or fees. We ensured that all of the money in the State Highway Fund will pay for transportation, ending more than $1 billion in diversions to other programs every two years. In addition, voters approved a constitutional amendment dedicating some existing sales tax dollars for transportation. Because of that vote and the Legislature's efforts, local authorities now plan to expand Highway 281 in San Antonio without tolls.

It's been a productive year, but there is more to come. I'm running for re-election to continue providing serious and conservative leadership on issues that matter to San Antonio and Texas. You can also email me at joe@joestraus.org to learn more about the work of the Texas House.