FEATURED: Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, a U.S. Marines combat veteran in Vietnam and a 27-year veteran of the Texas Legislature, on Friday, November 11, 2023, filed for re-election to a new four-year term in the Texas Senate, representing District 20. “As a border state, we must address the issues surrounding border security effectively. As a lifelong border resident, I understand the importance of finding comprehensive solutions that prioritize the safety and well-being of all Texans,” Hinojosa said. “I am committed to border security and continuing to work collaboratively to find solutions that protect our communities while upholding our values and treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
Photograph By SENATE MEDIA
Sen. Hinojosa files for reelection, pledges to continue focusing on border security, economic development
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, a U.S. Marines combat veteran in Vietnam and a 27-year veteran of the Texas Legislature, on Friday, November 11, 2023, announced that he is filing for reelection for a new four-year term in the Texas Senate, representing District 20.
According to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, the first day for candidates to file for the Tuesday, March 5, 2024 primary election was Saturday, November 11, 2023. The last day to file for the March 5, 2024 primary election is Monday, December 11, 2023 at 6 p.m.
The winners of their respective political party primaries – they are held on the same day – will face off in the general election, which is set for Tuesday, November 4, 2024.
As of December 2021, Texas officially recognized four political parties.
Senate District 20 includes Hidalgo, Nueces, Jim Wells, and Brooks counties. The major cities in that district are Corpus Christi in Nueces County, and McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr, and Mission in Hidalgo County.
In announcing his bid for reelection, Hinojosa said his legislative goals are to continue providing for an educated and healthy workforce, investing in critical infrastructure, protecting communities, creating jobs, lowering taxes, and furthering economic development.
“I am honored to serve the people of Senate District 20. There are continuing challenges and issues we need to resolve, and I am running for reelection to continue working to find solutions that benefit our communities and our state,” Hinojosa said.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he said that during the five-month long 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which was held from early January through May 2023, he worked “tirelessly to take care of the needs of our families.
“With the surplus funds we have had the past two sessions (spring 2023 and spring 2021), I have focused on legislation and funding that increases access to quality education, affordable healthcare, safe communities, and providing tax relief for homeowners and businesses,” Hinojosa explained. “To ensure that our future generations, our children and grandchildren, have the resources they need to thrive, I have secured funding and supported investments in infrastructure projects including broadband, water, roads, and the electric grid.”
In the Texas Legislature, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee separately develop the two-year budget for Texas for the approval of the full Senate and the full House, respectively.
All differences between the Senate and House state budget are settled by a “conference committee”, which is a legislative panel made up of five members from the Senate and five members from the House appointed by the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House, respectively, to resolve the differences between the Senate and the House versions.
The Texas governor has the final authority to approve or veto (kill) individual spending items from the final state budget approved by the Texas Legislature; it would take a two-thirds vote by the Senate and the two-thirds vote by the House to overrule any budget veto by the governor.
As further examples of key state programs for Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, and his Senate District 20 that as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee that he helped include in the current two-year state budget, Hinojosa provided the following information:
• $120 million to construct a 50-bed state hospital maximum security facility in the Rio Grande Valley;
• $85 million for the construction of up to 100 inpatient beds for a mental health hospital in the Rio Grande Valley;
• $25 million for the Texas A&M Health Science Center to construct an education and research facility at the Texas A&M Higher Education Center in McAllen;
• $20 million for the Pharr International Bridge;
• $12 million for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine Podiatric Specialty Medicine Program;
• $10 million for the South Texas International Airport for infrastructure upgrades;
• Up to $10 million in funds for the Raymondville Drain Project.
• $5 million for the Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco for a hangar expansion;
• $3 million in grants for Border Zone Fire Departments. This is an increase of $2 million from the previous budget; and
• $625,000 for the City of La Joya park renovations; and
• $500,000 for the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center in McAllen.
On a statewide level, Hinojosa’s work as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee also helped provide money for the following measures:
• House Bill 1 – the state budget bill, which covers a two-year budget that went in to effect on September 1, 2023 – totaled $321 billion, and features the following highlights:
• Nearly $81 billion for the Texas Medicaid Program;
• $18 billion in property tax relief, which was approved by Texas voters through a state constitutional amendment that was overwhelming passed on Tuesday, November 7, 2023;
• $9.4 billion in funding for mental health care including $280.5 million to fully fund the Texas Child Mental Health Consortium;
• To ensure that the state remains competitive, investing in Texas public institutions of higher education and the state’s growing workforce remained a priority throughout the budget-writing process, House Bill 1 provides for increased funding towards general academic universities ($4.8 billion) and public junior colleges ($2.2 billion).
• $5 billion for electric generation facilities;
• The budget also included $1.6 billion for a one-time supplemental payment (or 13th check) for certain Teacher Retirement System retirees and $3.4 billion for a cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers.
• $3.2 billion to the Foundation School Program to fund projected enrollment growth in the state’s public schools, and also sets aside $5 billion for teacher salary increases and other educational priorities;
• $2 billion to raise base wages for Medicaid community attendants;
• $1.5 billion for broadband infrastructure;
• With school safety a priority for the Texas Legislature, $1.4 billion has been added for school safety measures.
• $1 billion for state parks.
• $1 billion for water infrastructure projects; and
• As the state population grows, so does the need for a robust healthcare workforce. House Bill 1 includes $233 million for graduate medical education and more than $124 million for other healthcare staffing programs.
Hinojosa, a McAllen resident and an attorney by profession, added that he remains committed to supporting policies and programs that create jobs, and provide training opportunities such as apprenticeships, and enhance scholarship funding for students.
“As a border state, we must address the issues surrounding border security effectively. As a lifelong border resident, I understand the importance of finding comprehensive solutions that prioritize the safety and well-being of all Texans,” Hinojosa added. “I am committed to border security and continuing to work collaboratively to find solutions that protect our communities while upholding our values and treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
Hinojosa is the eldest of eight children.
He attended Mission Independent School District schools as a child, and was a farmworker during his teen years.
After graduation from high school, he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hinojosa served his country with distinction in Vietnam before returning home to continue his education.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Pan American University (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), where he graduated with honors, and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
After returning to South Texas, Hinojosa served as staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an Assistant Attorney General for the Texas Attorney General.
Since 1980, Hinojosa has operated a private practice in Hidalgo County representing clients in both civil and criminal matters.
Hinojosa served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1981 until 1991 and again from 1997 to 2003.
He has served in the Texas Senate since 2003.
For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com)