Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, represents Palo Pinto County in the 30th District and serves on the finance committee.
He said he worked hard to spare the facility, noting he will continue to fight for a reversal of the decision.
“My whole point was to point out to the committee the devastating impact that can have on a small community,” he said, echoing McKennon by saying “it was much more appropriate for the [TDCJ] agency to determine what closes and what does not close.”
Estes explained he did what he could during the hearing but did not have the needed support on the committee.
“Through a procedural maneuver I got [the item] severed from the working group document which meant we had a special vote on that one particular item,” he said. “The long and short of it is I lost the vote.”
He noted the House can still reverse the decision and said he would do his best to explain why the prison is important to this community.
“It is my hope to convince my colleagues it is not a smart move,” he said. “Nothing’s over until it’s over so I’ll continue to use every means possible to try to keep the facility open.”
Estes has opposed fellow committee member Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, before on this issue.
Most recently, Whitmire expressed a desire to close the facility last December, though he told the Index at the time he had never visited the prison.
“If you don’t need it, why do we spend money we don’t have?” he asked. “We ought to celebrate that we can spend less tax dollars.”
Estes contends the facility is not only needed but contributes greatly to this community, and told the Index, “I’m fighting as hard as I can for the good folks of Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County and we’re not going to give up on this project.”