A Texas State student has one foot in the door of higher education and the other in the Texas Legislature.
Larry Gonzales, the state representative for District 52, is simultaneously working toward earning his master’s degree and pushing for legislation to fund new buildings to better the university. This legislative session Gonzales is spending his time out of the classroom and in the capitol, serving on multiple committees concerning budgets, redistricting, local calendars and technology.
Gonzales said he is interested in higher and public education funding this legislative session because of his ties to Texas State. He is interested in seeing what advances can be made by utilizing technology to make the state run more efficiently.
A part of Gonzales’ job is working on legislation for funding the proposed Health Professions 2 building in Round Rock and the new Engineering and Science structure on the San Marcos campus. Gonzales said getting funding for the new buildings is one of his top priorities this session.
“We’re building an infrastructure of health care (in Round Rock),” Gonzales said.
Gonzales is working toward earning his Master’s of Public Administration at Texas State’s Round Rock campus. He is not enrolled at Texas State during this legislative session, but is nine hours shy of a master’s degree. Gonzales said his time as a state representative has been wonderful and challenging.
“You walk in the chamber, you walk on that House floor and you realize there’s a lot of history before you,” Gonzales said. “Texas is a really neat place to be.”
Gonzales said the experience is rewarding, but sometimes serving as a state representative can present challenges.
“It’s also a very difficult time to serve,” Gonzales said. “There are budget shortfalls, people that are upset, people that are angry, and there’s a bad attitude toward Washington, D.C.”
Gonzales served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations for the Texas State University System prior to being elected as a state representative.
Gonzales said he was able to visit all eight institutions within the Texas State University System and meet students during the tenure. He said each campus has its own mission and unique population of students.
“I think I got a really good appreciation for all of the kids at each one of these schools because every school is so different in their mission and who they’re teaching,” Gonzales said. “I loved it.”
Diane Corley, associate general counsel of the university system, said Gonzales’ role was to monitor the legislative process, including bills affecting the system, students, faculty and overall higher education.
Corley said Gonzales was one of the most professional and honest people with whom she has worked, and he represented the system well. She said the special interest in the Round Rock district will help Gonzales do all he can in supporting both Texas State campuses during the legislative session.
Gonzales serves on the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee when the legislature is not in session. Gonzales said it is his job to give the chamber the “Texas State and higher education perspective,” along with state government news affecting Round Rock.
Doug Kurkul, president and CEO of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, said Gonzales was one of five legislators who recently spoke to members about the current session. He said Gonzales talked about the budget challenges facing Texas.
“We’re very hopeful we will get funding for additional construction during this session,” Kurkul said.