Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Texas Senate District 16

4-year term. Must be 21 years or older, a U.S. citizen, a resident ofTexas, and a resident of the district represented. Responsible forrepresenting the citizens of the district in which he/she is elected in theTexas Senate.
  • Candidate picture

    Nathan Johnson (Dem) Attorney

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    Joe Bogen (Dem) Defense Attorney

  • Don Huffines (Rep)

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

EDUCATION: What changes, if any, should be made to public education and its funding in Texas?

RAINY DAY FUND: What uses are appropriate, in your opinion, for the Rainy Day fund?

LOCAL CONTROL: Are you in favor or opposed to additional restrictions on cities’ ability to raise property taxes? If in favor, how would you implement? Last session saw restrictions placed on cities’ ability to regulate fracking, gun sales, etc. Are you in favor of these restrictions and would you favor additional restrictions?

HIGHWAY FUNDS: How would you address the growing need for funding for highway maintenance and construction? What is your position on allowing tolled lanes to reduce congestion on crowded highways?

OTHER ISSUES: What other issues do you believe will be most pressing in the next session of the Texas Legislature and what is your position on these issues?

Age 50
Education B.S. in Physics University of Arizona J.D. University of Texas
Campaign Phone (214) 215-3301
Twitter @NathanForTexas
Increases should be directed at early education programs, and recruiting, retaining, and continuing education for teachers. Meanwhile, the allotment of education dollars should be altered to track the actual costs of educating various communities of children, rather than the more clumsy system presently in place. The recapture system, too, needs revising, to more accurately account for the finances of individual school districts. Keep education dollars – school property taxes – in education rather than diverting them other places. Additional funding can come from closing marketing-distorting tax loopholes, outdated industry-specific tax breaks as well as terminating unproductive expenditures such as superfluous border control spending.
The Legislature originally created the Rainy Day Fund to provide emergency financial cover for an economy that relied heavily on volatile revenue from oil and gas production, to prevent or reduce sudden massive cuts to funding for schools, safety, and healthcare among other essential services. This is a valid approach, and should be continued. But the Fund has grown so large as to warrant an expanded consideration of uses. The Rainy Day Fund is projected to hold $11.9 billion at the end of fiscal year 2019 if not used. It is too big to be left untapped after so many cuts to vital services over the past several legislative sessions.
I oppose efforts by the Legislature to preempt local officials on the subject of property tax rates which are entirely of local concern, including the Governor’s recently presented plan to establish a property tax revenue growth cap of 2.5% per year. Local tax rates are set by local elected officials. These officials are accountable to voters. School districts and cities and counties raise and lower rates frequently, in response to the budgetary needs which they understand and which state leaders do not understand. I oppose the centralization of power in Austin, where representatives from Pecos would dictate local policy for residents in Garland, and vice versa.
Even after voters approved two state constitutional amendments to raise highway finds, not only do we remain billions short, we’re subtracting from funds that would otherwise be available for our public school system. Meanwhile, our population continues to grow while gas tax revenue, on a per capita basis, effectively declines. We could increase the gas tax, which would help in the short term, but it’s temporary. Sound urban planning may help, private projects like the bullet train may help, self-driving cars may help; but there is no denying that we need additional transportation infrastructure nor that present funding levels don’t even meet the cost of maintaining existing infrastructure.
In addition to public school finance reform, infrastructure, and local control issues—which I believe will dominate the session —legislators questions related to health care and criminal justice reform. On health care: Restore funding to Planned Parenthood, and expand and reform Medicaid. Defunding Planned Parenthood has been an inexcusable humanitarian failure, and an economic disaster as well. Likewise with respect to the obstinate refusal to expand Medicaid. On criminal justice reform: We should increase funding for drug treatment facilities, reform our bail system, and facilitate re-integration into the workforce for individuals who have completed probation and demonstrated civic virtue.
Age 36
Education Bachelor's, Radio Television Film Master's, Public Affairs Juris Doctor
Campaign Phone (972) 914-8851
Twitter @jbogentx
We must increase state funding for education and expand access to universal pre-kindergarten. Texas spends less on education than most states, and our spending on incarceration has increased ten times faster than our spending on education. We must reverse these trends. Comprehensive criminal justice reform that includes bail reform and eliminating prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses will free up additional funds. Texas should also look into eliminating wasteful spending on border security, closing business tax loopholes and pursuing new innovative sources of revenue to close the funding gap. I would also consider requiring that any budget passed matches at least 50% of local funding for public education.
Texas needs clarity on the purpose and use of the Rainy Day Fund. Texas has over $10 Billion in the Rainy Day Fund, making it one of the largest in the nation.But many Texans are left wondering what this fund is for if it was not used in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, literally the rainiest day in Texas history. A rainy day fund should be available to cover unexpected one-time expenditures and unexpected dips in revenue, but Texas has repeatedly declined to use its Rainy Day Fund for these limited purposes. Texas must clearly designate a clear purpose for the Rainy Day Fund while setting a limit for the fund so that it is no longer a drain on the Texas economy.
I oppose all of these restrictions on local control. Local jurisdictions and residents are in the best position to judge whether property taxes should be raised or decreased. The state of Texas should not be managing the budget and finances for the city of Dallas or the Dallas Independent School District. I also oppose any restrictions on non-discrimination ordinances, fracking that can be harmful to the local community, and firearm regulation. The state government of Texas has no business forcing firearms into places where communities do not want them. This madness needs to end.
Revenue shortages are leading to an over-reliance on toll roads. I oppose the continued expansion of toll lanes. Not only do these managed toll lanes discriminate against Texans with less financial resources, but they also increase pollution and fail to meaningfully address congestion. We have seen amazing improvements in fuel efficiency and record low gas prices in recent years. We must make sure the gas tax is providing adequate funding for our roads. Vehicle registration fees are another potential source that would allow the state to collect highway funds from electric and luxury cars. We must make sure the costs of transportation are shared equally by all Texans.
A personal priority for me is criminal justice reform. We should stop wasting money incarcerating the poor, mentally ill and drug addicts. Bail reform is a top priority. Money bail should be the exception, not the norm, and an attorney must represent every defendant when incarceration is a possibility.

Perhaps the most urgent issue for the next legislative session is redistricting reform. The subsequent session will bring redistricting and the danger of another ten years under a gerrymandered map. 2019 is the best opportunity to remove the legislature from the redistricting process and create an independent redistricting commission. We must also pursue comprehensive voting rights reform to address our abysmal voter turnout in this state.
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