Nirenberg uses 2019 State of the City speech to push free community college

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg used the message of unity to declare the state of the city was strong at his address before several local chambers of commerce Friday.

In his speech, Nirenberg lauded the city’s addition of more than 40,000 new jobs in the past two years, unemployment rates below the state and national averages and population and economic growth.

While championing his and the city’s recent accomplishments, the mayor also noted his team is focused on building up other industries in the area like cyber security, IT, bioscience and advanced manufacturing.

“We have more cyber assets than any metro area outside Washington, D.C.,” Nirenberg told the audience. “But our vision is bigger than that, we are Cyber City USA, and we will be the hub for international security in defense, business and academia.”

Specifically, he noted how UTSA and Texas A&M San Antonio are each developing programs to fuel those industries.

The mayor stated Pen Fed, Victory Capital and Accenture Federal Services are all adding jobs to the area this year.

But Nirenberg’s big push at the event was The Alamo Promise.

“The Alamo Promise is simple: every student — no matter their circumstances — should be free to pursue their full potential,” Nirenberg explained.  “We all benefit when they do.”

The mayor pushed for free tuition for all qualified Bexar County residents to the local community colleges.

“This investment — minimal in comparison to so many other things we do as a community — will leverage federal funding, public-private partnerships and a last dollar scholarship to cover the cost of tuition at the Alamo Community Colleges District,” the mayor stated. “The Alamo Promise is not only a smart investment in San Antonio’s economy and our future, but is the moonshot to reduce generational poverty and increase social mobility.”

Outside of the economic victories and pushes the mayor touted, Nirenberg stated there has been a 16 percent drop in serious crimes in the city and noted the city’s implementation of Tobacco 21.

On the growth and sustainability of the city, Nirenberg highlighted the SAWS’ diversity of water sources and CPS Energy standing as the top solar power producer in Texas.

The mayor also talked about climate change, saying, “The data is clear: San Antonio will be hotter, dryer and experience more severe storms.”

He stated not taking action will cause a laundry list of issues, including higher energy bills, infrastructure and property being at risk to natural disasters, and the weather increasing the rates of asthma and diabetes.

On affordable housing, the mayor says the average San Antonio family cannot afford an average San Antonio home, blaming skyrocketing home prices and rents and not-as-skyrocketing wage growth.

Nirenberg said since he took office, the city now has a 10-year plan to have the market increase the supply of affordable housing.  He also noted an increase in the number of new housing starts and the push to add more housing units downtown.

The mayor also told the audience of local business leaders he had been committed to basic street maintenance, but said doubling the amount of money put toward reducing congesting and keeping pace with the region’s population growth.

He lauded the ConnectSA effort he announced at last year’s address, which he said will follow the following goals: having a city with “complete streets”, 200 more miles of sidewalks, making Vision Zero — the effort to eliminate all traffic fatalities in the city — a reality, make the city safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and adding 40 miles of protected lanes for bikes and scooters.

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