Education. An email from my state senator, Dan Patrick. Wish we had more guys like him. Unfortunately, he does not have name recognition to run for governor. Dear Friends, Merry Christmas! As we enter this holiday season, I am more mindful than ever of all the blessings surrounding us. We live in the greatest country in the world and I am grateful to represent the citizens of District 7. Despite the economic difficulties of this past year, and the pressing issues that face us now, so many of you have responded with ingenuity, hard work, and optimism - the very characteristics that make this state and country so great. I hope each of you enjoys the season and time with your family and friends. Many of you have heard me talk about Texas' growing population. Our state demographer predicts that we are on pace to double our population by 2040. Growth can be a good thing - if we prepare now. I believe the legislature must make every decision now in preparation for this unprecedented period of growth. Since funding is going to be tighter than ever in the next legislative session, we need to be smarter and more focused on our goals in allocating funds that we do have. Over 50% of our state budget goes toward our education system. We need to take a close look at how we are spending taxpayer money to educate our children. Education is key to building a productive workforce and stable society. We can no longer afford to try to educate every child in the same way, in the same brick-and-mortar traditional school. We must build on the success of our current education system, and provide new avenues of education. We must continue to push for growth in higher education so to better prepare our workforce. As the demand grows, our community colleges, trade schools, and four-year institutions need to grow as well. Students of all ages and backgrounds need to be able to access higher education to meet their educational needs. This will be a great benefit to our economy and will continue to boost Texas' business health. With this growth, transportation is also a critical issue. Those of us living in Harris County are painfully aware of just how critical this issue is to our state. We can't drive, fly, or float anywhere without feeling the effect of an overburdened transportation system. Our major highways and urban routes are overcrowded and maintenance and expansion projects are not keeping up with the demand. Additional taxes are not the answer - we need to be smarter and more focused on what the needs are and how to best achieve them. Of course health care remains the issue on the top of everyone's mind. Costs continue to rise and the burden on this system is easily seen and felt in every hospital, doctor, and medical office across the state. I remain completely opposed to any federal takeover of our health care system. The proposals coming out of Washington, D.C., will only add taxes, debt, and fewer health care options. States must have the flexibility to provide health care options and promote competition in the industry. Texas has performed far better than other states in the past year largely because we have kept our goals in clear sight and stayed the course. As we look to the future, I am confident that we can meet these challenges and make Texas an even more prosperous place to live and work. I am honored to be your senator and look forward to continuing to give voice to your concerns and issues in the coming year.