Rural challenge

Legislators, there’s a lot of Texas out there that’s not getting its due
There has been a decades-long population shift in this state from rural to urban. In this time between legislative sessions, we offer three issues for our representatives to think about.

Health care — Rockdale is in much better shape than other rural communities, as Blackhawk Healthcare is positioning itself to build a new hospital. But much of rural Texas, especially the wide expanses in the west, has trouble attracting doctors, finding help for indigent care, much less the investments in health care infrastructure. We agree with Don McBeath, of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, who wrote in The Texas Tribune recently that “...some laws need to be changed and state regulatory agencies must realize that the rural health care system is different. Many [physicians] will not take on the financial risk of being self-employed and setting up their own practice in a rural area with higher levels of uninsured and underinsured patients.”

Water — It’s been well-documented that water marketers are eyeing rural aquifers and planning to pump groundwater to the urban areas, and profit handsomely while doing so. We see it here and in the Panhandle, where T. Boone Pickens wants to pump the water from the Ogalalla Aquifer and send it to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. But we out here in the sticks wonder why unlimited development is allowed to continue in metro areas when this most basic of resources will have to be brought in from another spot. There is little thought of sustainability.

Development — The water equation plays into a development scenario as well. How can rural Texas compete for jobs against well-funded cities which can spread out their amenities and incentive packages over hundreds of thousands or even millions more residents?

Redistricting has made rural Texas even more irrelevant to lawmakers. Milam is in District 20, lumped in with northern Williamson County, so it’s easy to see where most of the votes come from, and most of the state’s resources go. The late Dan Kubiak was the last state representative from the area.

Rural Texas needs some type of incentive to remain the least bit competitive. We hope lawmakers will give that some thought— K.E.C.

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2010-01-14 digital edition

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