Ranger College and the Vote YES Committee picked up two major endorsements by legislative powerhouses who represented this region in Austin. Former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, a DeLeon native, served in the Texas House of Representatives including Speaker and was then elected as Lt. Governor and presided over the Texas Senate. State Representative Jim Keffer, from Eastland, who served as Chairman of the House Energy Resources committee.
“Texas is a world leader in industry and the biggest reason for that is the strength of our school and education systems,” noted Lt. Gov. Barnes, “Ranger College, just like community colleges across the State, are designed to fill the gap between High School and 4-Year Colleges and Universities and they benefit our communities in several ways.”
“Another benefit of Ranger College is that it provides job training and certifications. Ranger College has been directly responsible for more than 250 area jobs that generate more than $9,000,000 per year in local increased wages,” Barnes added.
Former State Representative Jim Keffer echoed Lt. Governor Barnes’ comments and commented how community colleges help families with children looking to go on to college, “First, they lower the overall cost of a college education, by providing a lower cost alternative for area students to get college credit while living close to home. Today, High school students can take college courses while still in high school. In fact, several students received an Associate’s Degree from Ranger College before they walked across the stage to accept their High School Diplomas. Having this option saves Texas families tens of thousands of dollars.”
One issue the Lt. Governor clarified is the confusing ballot language regarding the tax rate. “State law only allows the ballot to list the current tax rate, not the proposed rate. But it is the proposed rate of $.11 per $100 valuation that voters in Brown, Comanche or Erath County will ultimately fund to support local education, not the $.43 rate currently being charged Ranger ISD,” stated Barnes.
“No one likes to pay taxes,” commented Rep. Keffer. “But The cost of supporting this annexation will be about $8 per month for homeowner and renters. The tax rate of $.11 will be the 2nd lowest taxing entity in the County. But will generate enough revenue so that each county can operate their campuses independently and with enough money to fund additional programs in nursing, EMT, and worker training and safety.”
“We agree that investing in local education is always the best choice for a community and will have an immediate impact supporting the local economy while reducing costs for parents,” noted Keffer.
The Ranger College Board of Regents voted unanimously to support exemptions for Homestead, Over 65 or Disabled and a freeze for senior citizens.
“Ranger College has invested in all three communities and the response with more than 1700 students from these counties now taking classes from Ranger College is a testament to Ranger College fulfilling its duties as set by the Texas Legislature,” noted Jackie Stephens, Chairman of the Board for Ranger. The Texas Legislature also allows for those communities to help share in the cost of operations, which until now, has been funded by the citizens of Ranger ISD and current Ranger operations, with no local taxpayer monies. By supporting annexation, the taxes collected will cover current operations in each county with approximately with some room for expansion of new services.”
Announcing the endorsements was former Brownwood Mayor, Bert Massey. “I’ve known Gov. Barnes and Representative Keffer for a long time and their endorsement is very notable. They were leaders and supporters of public education in Texas and their support of Ranger College and this annexation effort is to be commended,” noted Massey.