Senator Charles Perry Talks Workforce Development With San Angelo's Big Business


SAN ANGELO, TX -- District 28 State Senator Charles Perry of Lubbock met with dozens of representatives from San Angelo area manufacturers on Thursday to discuss challenges and strengths in the region.

Perry is chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs.  He also is a member of the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.  He also sits on the Senate Select Committees on Tax Reform and Government Reform.

Perry participated in a question and answer session with the San Angelo Regional Manufacturers Alliance (SARMA) at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce office in the San Angelo Cisitor’s Center, 418 W. Avenue B.  

According to Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Michael Looney, SARMA was formed to provide the San Angelo manufacturing community with the best possible opportunities to grow, compete and succeed in the national and global marketplace.

San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter also attended the meeting.  Much of the discussion centered around the local San Angelo workforce and education.  Perry told the group that the State of Texas has a $218 billion two-year budget and $60 billion of that goes to public schools.  Perry said lawmakers should have a discussion about vocational training for juniors and seniors in high school who are not going to college.  

[[{"fid":"40855","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)"}},"attributes":{"alt":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)","title":"SARMA sign. (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]Above: SARMA sign.  (LIVE! Photo/Yantis Green)

Perry gave the example of a high school student who knows he is going to go into the family farming business.  Is it necessary for that student to sit in a high school classroom for the last two years, the junior and senior years, studying English Literature when he could be working in his chosen field? Gunter said we know that throwing more money at public education hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work now.

Perry told the group of manufacturers that water is a limiting factor for manufacturing in West Texas along with transportation.  Perry and Gunter discussed the need for the designation of Interstate highways. Perry said Interstate 27, the proposed Interstate highway plan through the spine of West Texas, following the Ports-to-Plains corridor to the border, has been around for a long time and is now designated as an interstate and will be funded within 20 years.  The plan for I-27 is to build a major vehicle artery from Laredo on the Mexican border up to Del Rio, then through San Angelo and Lubbock into Colorado and on to Canada.

Another Interstate plan in the works, I-14, runs east to west from Louisiana through San Angelo and Midland.  

The group also discussed property tax reform, insurance costs and high speed internet as challenges the legislature needs to address.  Perry told the manufacturers that the political reality is that Harris County, the Houston area, has 25 Representatives in the House. There are only 17 Representatives west of I-35.  The difference, according to Perry is that the Houston area representatives don’t get along while the West Texas representatives vote together. He said that West Texas could lose a representative seat in 2021 after the 2020 census and redistricting.

SARMA members include Hirschfeld Steel, Ethicon, Time Clock Plus, Dragon Equipment, C&J Energy Services, Aermotor Windmill Co., West Texas Industrial Engines, Hydraulic Industrial Services, and Principal LED.  

SARMA’s initiatives include promoting a unified voice for the manufacturing and energy sector, monitoring the Concho Valley workforce, providing networking and educational opportunities, and facilitating growth, retention and recruitment of the future workforce by supporting training and job skills.

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