State Senator Kel Seliger meets with Hutchinson County

Alex Mann
Managing Editor

Residents of Borger and Hutchinson County had the unique opportunity to meet with one of their state representatives Thursday as Texas State Senator Kel Seliger conducted an informal town hall meeting at Borger’s City Hall.
While the event was a unique opportunity in its own right, a number of special guests packed the council chambers hoping to learn more about the state they lived in. Students from Borger, Stinnett, and Fritch schools filed into available seats, and as Seliger began, he started by recognizing the gathering of young adults. “Thanks for being here today. This is always a very special town hall meeting for me, and I'm very flattered that you would come here from area schools.” For those unfamiliar, Seliger continued on to explain just why visits to Borger are so special for him. “You all have the same advantage that I had in life,” He says, “and that's going to school in Hutchinson County. I'm a graduate of Borger High School, and I'm really proud of it.” Among all the other concerned citizens gathered, Seliger felt it was especially important for young people to be aware of what was going on in their state and nation. “The things we're doing today affect you more than anyone else,” He explains, “because it has to do with the economy you'll eventually live with and the employment you'll eventually have.”
Before the Seliger dove into the issues themselves, he offered one final piece of advice to the local youth. “Here's my experience, so few people register to vote that's its really kind of pitiful.” Seliger sighs, “For the last couple hundred years, we've never really had that kind of social upheaval that really motivates people, and I think part of the psyche is that this is a great country, a great community, and it's going to be great regardless of who's elected. That's true to an extent, but when things go off the rails and we decide we hate the government, we have the government we deserve.” It’s easy enough to complain about those in charge and laws passed, but Seliger explains that those who don’t take advantage of their electoral rights are the only one’s responsible for poor leaders. “Think about it, based on who you vote for, don't vote for, or just stay home, you have exactly the government you deserve. We can have any government we want.”
As the town hall entered a more informal question and answer portion, Seliger faced a number of questions on a wide range of subjects. On the topic of education, he encouraged locals to manage their own school systems when asked about the rising cost of education. Local school boards and districts are the key to reigning in costs, and Seliger insists the quickest way for concerned citizens to see change is to make it happen on the local level, instead of relying on state or federal regulations. On education, another interesting topic was the debate on whether teachers and administrators should be allowed to carry firearms on campus for self-defense. Despite his own passionate National Rifle Association membership, Seliger had mixed feelings on the subject. While not strictly opposed to the idea, he ultimately felt that teachers who carry would simply become the first targets of a shooter. In any event, he reminds that years of training and teamwork are required by police squads to professionally take down armed gunmen, and he felt a lone teacher would be hard pressed to stop a shooting, even if armed.
Countless other topics were reviewed, and locals were eager to talk about everything from eminent domain to gay marriage. Ultimately however, one of the biggest points of interest was the current budget for the State of Texas. The 84th legislature was over in June, and they're all significant, but the most significant thing we have to do is the budget.” Seliger says, “The budget for the State of Texas in this two year period is $208.9 billion, and that makes Texas about the 12th largest economy in the whole world. That's a good thing, but there are a lot of challenges when you have a state that grows by 400,000 people per year, and when public school enrollment increases by 75,000 to 80,000 students per year. Those things drive the cost of government up, it's no mystery. The significant thing about this budget is that the increases in the budget over the last bi-annual... were less than inflation and population growth.”
While other governments across the country are criticized for overinflated bureaucracy and regulations, most of those gathered were quite satisfied with the reasonable, and measured size of Texas’ government. Though the assembled visitors and even Seliger himself seemed to thoroughly enjoy the conversations, time constraints eventually brought the meeting to a close. Nevertheless, citizens left with valuable knowledge regarding their state government, and local representation. For his part, Seliger was simply grateful that so many involved citizens were eager to learn about politics, law, and current events. “I appreciate you all being here,” he concluded, “and I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in the Texas State Senate.”