Today, I formally announce my intent to seek re-election in 2012 and humbly ask you to allow me to continue to be your United States Representative for the 15th Congressional District of Texas. Since my first term in Congress, I have worked hard to improve the quality of life for the people of South Texas. I have helped bring hundreds of millions of dollars in federal investments to rural and urban communities from the Coastal Bend to the Rio Grande Valley. These investments have trained our workers, modernized our infrastructure, improved access to healthcare, protected our communities and created jobs.
For example, I fought for the more than $300 million in funds which were used over the last four years to fix our levees along the Rio Grande River.
When the storms hit and the river rose to historic levels, people and property were saved because we were able to expedite this work which otherwise would have taken decades to complete.
We have opened two beautiful new international bridges that are creating jobs and alleviating congestion because of the federal investment I helped secure. Many of our communities like Alice and Elsa are upgrading their water and wastewater systems because of federal stimulus funds and I-69 is closer to being a reality as work continues in Falfurrias, Ben Bolt, Premont and Three Rivers.
At the national level, I worked with our allies in Congress and President Obama to pass the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which included the largest single increase in federal student aid since the GI Bill of 1945 and provided for more than $2.55 billion during the next 10 years in investments to Minority Serving Institutions and more importantly to Hispanic Serving Institutions including our own University of Texas-Pan American, South Texas College, Texas State Technical College, and Coastal Bend College branches. Friends, the future of this country lies in the hands of our young children; this is why I have made Higher Education a priority and have been, and continue to be, the Champion for Education.
As the son of immigrant parents from the small town of Mercedes, Texas, I was taught the value of hard work and the importance of integrity from a very early age. After graduating from Mercedes High School, I attended Texas A&I University for one year, received my Bachelor's in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and received my Masters in Business Administration from UT-Pan American.
My parents knew the value of education and I have kept their teachings in mind as I fight to make sure that every child has the opportunity to reach their potential and follow their dreams. As businessman I saw firsthand that if our region was to grow and reduce our chronic unemployment and poverty we had to educate and train our people for the jobs of the future. That formula of education, training and infrastructure improvement has helped us become one of the fastest growing, highest job creating regions in the nation.
As some of you may be aware, our congressional district boundaries are currently still in flux and are being contested in federal court. Gerrymandering has greatly distorted the intent of the redistricting process and some opportunistic politicians in Austin have used a supermajority to create new districts favorable to them. As part of a state dominated by a Republican majority, the process, so far, has been nearly monopolized in Austin, with Deep South Texas being denied its right to a fourth congressional seat in current 2012 map proposals. I continue to believe that because of our population and economic growth, Deep South Texas deserves an additional Congressional seat and the federal investment it will bring. I will continue to fight with many community leaders to make sure that the partisan interests of a few politian's in Austin cannot be allowed to come before the needs of South Texans.
I am deeply honored by the trust you have placed in me by sending me to Washington D.C. and stand ready to continue working work for the people of the 15th Congressional District of Texas regardless of the outcome of the redrawn electoral maps. With your help and financial support, I will continue to make sure that your voices are heard in Washington. I respectfully ask for your vote in 2012.