As a way inform the Lubbock community about efforts to continue Texas economic development during the COVID-19 pandemic, state legislators took part in a virtual briefing Thursday.
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce hosted Texas Sen. Charles Perry, John Frullo, Texas District 84 representative, and Dustin Burrows, Texas District 83 representative, who all provided their thoughts on what needs to be done during and after the pandemic to ensure the state continues development in multiple areas of its infrastructure.
Perry said the main areas of focus are getting people back to work, providing support for rural healthcare and combating the spread of COVID-19.
"I can tell you we will make the necessary hard decision that we have to to, one, not burden taxpayers, and, two, bring this economy back to life quicker than most states," he said. "We've had a history of that. We don't raise taxes, and we make hard calls."
There are accounts, such as Medicaid and motor vehicle tax, legislators cannot change, Perry said.
"So, there's two components there that are going to be down, so do we have make hard cuts in the sense that we don't want to spend money on those projects," he said. "But those are conversations that have been had. We should not shipwreck our game plan 10 years out for something that we believe will be temporary."
Perry hopes people will soon be able to get back to work with the knowledge they have gained about how to properly practice social distancing, he said.
Regarding any possibility on businesses being able to re-open, Perry said it will be up to local jurisdictions to make the call on how businesses should operate.
"I believe business owners now fully grasp and have been educated well on what proper social distancing is," he said.
Overall, having conversations about how to address the impact of the pandemic on local businesses is necessary, Perry said.
Frullo said communities have to address the business impact on an individual basis. There are businesses that currently are thriving while some are out of business.
"We're trying to make the best decisions we can with the information we have available at that time." he said regarding legislators' actions during the pandemic. "Going forward, we can see what Congress has done with the two different programs to make money available to individuals."
Legislators are considering factors currently impacting the state and the country to see what can be improved on during this time, Frullo said.
"So, as this virus passes, we know more about it, we know what we will do, we know what mutations happen as vaccines and different items get fixed, we can make those decisions," he said. "But I think it's paramount that we start getting to where people can get back to work, they can have a sense of accomplishment, and the big thing is hope."
Burrows said people are getting desperate, and it is unknown how long certain businesses can be forced to be closed. Helping local businesses is something that needs to be focused on.
"What I do think we will likely see happen, I hope that we will see happen very soon in different jurisdictions is, you know, more businesses re-opening, maybe under different conditions," he said. "More people who are not as at risk be allowed to return to full capacity."
The government will not be able to solve most problems if certain businesses are shut down too long, Burrows said.
"And I do think the Disaster Relied Act that we're operating under today that we're seeing will likely be rewritten next session," he said. "I don't know how, but we will learn these lessons."