BA: Political Science, 03
MA: International Journalism, 06
The state's contribution to public education needs to increase to a level of 50 percent and needs to include teacher pay raises, investment in universal pre-K, special education services, poverty relief that addresses food shortages at home and other basic family needs, decrease emphasis on standardized testing, and increase per pupil spending. Property tax relief should be a part of that discussion as this has been the offset. I've taught for 10 years and my college students are sometimes unable to read or write at a college level, lack critical thinking and communication skills and struggle to complete. Our students deserve our investment, they are our future workforce and my sons' future depends on what we as legislators do for our kids
The Rainy Day fund is a savings account for the state and should be used for state-wide emergencies or severe shortages. Hurricane Harvey, where over 40 inches of rain fell in the Houston area causing widespread damage, is an example of the kind of appropriate use of Rainy Day funds especially as homeowners and cities and school districts continue to recover and will for years. The state's maternal mortality crisis is another appropriate use of Rainy Day funds. Women die at a rate higher in Texas than anywhere in the Western World, yet rural hospitals are closing and others are stopping obstetric services. This is a crisis Texas we must address now.
I oppose limiting a city's ability to raise property taxes as some cities have no other choice to offset state funding cuts. If cities determine that fracking companies shouldn't drill within their limits or gun sales should be limited or bike rentals should be restricted, it is within their right to enact such laws especially as many of these measures have citizen support, and I support these types citizen-driven, local control measures.
Funding for highway and infrastructure must be addressed and I want to make it a legislative priority especially as a candidate seeking to represent a booming urban district. I am in favor of limited use of managed toll lanes to ease congestion, and I want to move the conversation forward as this district is in the heart of Dallas. In addition to highways, we must also talk about increased public transportation, alternative transportation options, and a high speed train, as more and more residents here seek alternative, shared, and public transportation options to better fit the workforce needs and desire for eco-friendly, affordable transportation options.
Healthcare - especially with regards to maternal mortality and women's healthcare including the need for expanded access to sex education courses in public schools, access to birth control, and annual well woman visits. My position is that we increase spending in these areas and restore funding to service providers such as Planned Parenthood that have the experience and infrastructure to handle a health crisis in Texas. School Finance Reform - property tax relief must be addressed in the 2019 session as well as, alternative tax options and restoring certain state fees, but I do not support a measure for private or charter school vouchers. Foster Care - remains a priority, and I intend to followup on measures not addressed in 2017.
J.D., South Texas College of Law Houston (2007)
B.A., University of Oklahoma (2001)
Texas needs to spend more on public education if it wants to remain competitive in today’s economy. Unfortunately, public education spending in Texas is on the decline. For example, we spend $428 less per high school student compared to 2008. As the husband of a high school teacher in DISD, I have personally seen how challenging the situation has become for teachers and their school districts throughout the state. We need to invest in public education if we want to develop an educated, talented, and diverse workforce that is attractive to innovative businesses and employers.
Additional funding from the state should NOT come from local property taxes. I believe we can cut the budget in some areas and seek new revenue from other sources.
I would be reluctant to tap into the Rainy Day fund unless it was truly an emergency. I do, however, believe that some expenditures can be considered wise investments that result in significant budgetary savings over time. One example would be a program to distribute free Long Acting Reversible Contraception to low-income areas. One such program was recently shown to have saved the state of Colorado $5.85 for every $1 invested. I would consider a modest use of Rainy Day funds for programs like this if reliable data suggests that it would be a good investment that would actually save us money.
I believe our cities should be given significant freedom to set policy. I am against restricting their ability to raise property taxes and regulate in other areas. Regarding property taxes, our schools are currently funded from two main sources: state taxes and local property taxes. When property tax revenues increase, the percentage paid by the state for education is decreased. The result is a shell game – we pay more in property taxes, but the amount allocated to our schools from state taxes is reduced. The best solution is to end the shell game and require a fixed percentage of funding for public education to come from the state.
I am open to finding a solution that gets our highways the funding and support that they need and that the people of Texas deserve. I am generally against relying on tolls for public infrastructure projects; however, if tolls are used to help start a project, I believe there should be a plan to eliminate the toll after certain criteria have been met.
I predict the state legislature will try to enact additional tax cuts for businesses, possibly by eliminating the franchise tax. I would be against this measure because we cannot afford it. It would make it even more difficult for us to fund education, which would make it increasingly difficult for Texas to attract quality jobs in the future. I also predict that the legislature will propose laws that make it legal to carry firearms without permits or to eliminate gun free zones near schools. I oppose these measures as well. A third issue will have to do with actions to undermine Medicaid by, for example, requiring recipients to prove they are unable to work. I also oppose these laws because we need to improve access to care for the poor.