Hinojosa reappointed to powerful state finance committee

State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. (Nathan Lambrecht/The Monitor)

Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is once again at the forefront of the state’s economy and budget after being snubbed last legislative session.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Wednesday that he once again appointed Hinojosa as vice chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which allocates the state’s budget.

“I am honored that Lt. Governor Patrick has entrusted me with the important responsibility of serving on the Senate Finance Committee as vice chair,” Hinojosa said Wednesday. “I look forward to re-joining this committee and working with Chair Joan Huffman and the committee members to meet the financial needs of our state while keeping taxes low to benefit our Texas families and ensure our state’s continued prosperity.”

Hinojosa had previously served in that position for more than a decade until 2020, when Patrick announced he was essentially taking Hinojosa off the committee and instead appointing state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. to the post.

Lucio, who announced his upcoming resignation from public office last year, is a longtime Democrat from Brownsville resident who has served more than three decades in the state legislature.

“Sen. Eddie Lucio has dedicated his life to public service,” Hinojosa said when Lucio announced his retirement. “I have worked alongside him in the Texas Senate for nearly two decades.”

Still, Hinojosa’s departure from the finance committee during the 86th Texas Legislature was widely seen as a political move meant to advance the state Republicans’ agenda.

Throughout his tenure, Lucio has often voted in favor of conservative measures and has repeatedly broken with Democratic party lines. His most egregious votes against the party have centered around women’s issues, including access to abortion, and the now infamous bathroom bill, which sought to keep transgender children from using a restroom of their choice.

In the last legislative session, Lucio helped pass the controversial Heartbeat Bill that made it illegal for Texas women to seek an abortion after six weeks of gestation, which makes it almost impossible to obtain the medical procedure.

In 2020, the Texas Tribune accused Lucio of being too cozy with Republicans and noted he accepted money from major GOP donors.

Patrick, himself, pointed to Lucio’s willingness to break party lines when Lucio announced his retirement.

“His brave defense of innocent life in the womb, often standing up to criticism from his own party, was a testament to his faith,” Patrick said when Lucio announced his retirement. “His brave defense of innocent life in the womb, often standing up to criticism from his own party, was a testament to his faith.”

Patrick also said Lucio had “the courage to put the interests of his district over those of his party and above national politics.

“His wisdom, experience and tremendous legislative ability will be sorely missed during future legislative sessions,” he said.

As vice chair, Hinojosa will help craft the budget for the ninth largest economy in the world.

“And despite the ongoing COVID challenges, our revenues have continued to outperform expectations,” Hinojosa said. “That said, we will continue monitoring situations around the world, inflation, and supply chain issues that can change our budget outlook at any time.”

He also said he is prioritizing funding for education, health care, infrastructure, public safety, growing the economy and creating jobs.

“I will also continue advocating for and ensuring the needs of South Texas are put at the forefront of critical discussions and negotiations,” Hinojosa said.