Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

U.S. House, District 9

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  • Al Green
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Benjamin Hernandez
    (I)

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    Phil Kurtz
    (L)

  • Kesha Rogers
    (I)

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Biographical Information

What do you consider the most critical issue Texas will face over the next five years? If elected, how would you approach this issue?

School finance in Texas has generated lots of talk but little legislation in recent years. What is your philosophy on the future of public school funding?

Do you believe America has a problem with gun violence? If so, how do you plan tackle it?

Congress and the President want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have taken steps to dismantle it. What role should the government have when it comes to health insurance?

Texas adds about a thousand people a day. This rapid growth has caused several problems. What are the top three issues the government should address because of this growth?

As a Texan, what do you believe is missing from the conversation about immigration and border security? How would your beliefs influence your approach to those policies?

Describe a unique experience from your childhood that shaped who you are today.

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Age 36
Education Rice University – Master of Business Administration Houston, TX – 2007, Rice University – Bachelor of Arts Houston, TX – 2005, University of Houston Houston, TX – 2000-2001 (Transferred to Rice to complete degree), South Houston High School Houston, TX – 2000.
Campaign Phone 713-855-4789
Website www.benjaminforcongress.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/benjaminforcongress
Twitter www.twitter.com/benjaminTX09
website www.benjaminforcongress.com
contact Benjamin Hernandez
Video https://youtu.be/Nj0kE2y33zo
Over the next five years if Texas is going to continue to thrive economically, we have to design comprehensive and secure immigration solutions that support growth. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expressed it this way: “Texas’ economic prowess has relied on a large and sustained influx of workers from other states and other countries.” For the future economic growth of Texas, immigration reform is not an option, but a necessity.

Congress must pass legislation that addresses the status of DREAMers; in Texas they account for $6 billion in economic activity. Nationwide, we must provide a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the shadows; many live in our state and already contribute to the economy. We also have to reform our system to provide balanced family reunification policies as well as continue providing visas that attract high skilled talent to fuel the growth of the healthcare, science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Every student in a Texas public school deserves a free quality education. The amount of resources a local school receives should not be determined by the wealth of the community. Schools in low, middle, and high-income communities should have equal access to resources.

The cost of education needs to be shared at least equally between the state and the local district. This, however, will require a lot of work and collaboration from the Texas State Legislature in the upcoming session. Over the past decade the amount of funding that the state provides has not kept pace with the local share. Texas has experienced a growth in the number of students it serves, but on a per student basis, the state is providing less money than it did a decade ago. Lawmakers insist their hands are tied, but in the same way the current system was reformed in 1993, it can be reformed today. The focus needs to be on equity between communities, but also equity between the state and local government.
I believe that America has a gun violence problem and to address it we need to treat it as a public health issue. The American Public Health Association and American Medical Association have weighed in and called gun violence a public health crisis. We need to have a Congress that will take an honest look at guns and pass common-sense legislation.

This includes implementing background checks for all gun sales; raising the minimum age to purchase firearms; banning bump stocks, assault style rifles, and high capacity magazines. We need to finally close the private sale and gun show loophole, stop gun purchases by those on the federal “no fly” or terrorist watch lists; support the implementation of red flag and locker laws as well as funding for federal research and public health surveillance on firearm-related injuries.

We owe it to those dying in our communities, streets, schools, and homes to acknowledge that we have a gun violence problem in this country and begin to address it.
Health is a human right. When the markets are unable or unwilling to provide products that protect pre-existing conditions and provide affordable options to the most vulnerable, I believe that it is appropriate for the government to play a role.

The United States spends the most money in the world on healthcare per person, but we don’t have anywhere near the best health outcomes. We need to do it differently. The Affordable Care Act was a good start and the next step is Medicare For All, a single payer system that will cover people in our country and over the long run bring down the cost of healthcare.

If we don't get there soon, at minimum, we need to: stabilize the insurance markets, work with states to expand Medicaid, close the coverage gap, drive down costs of prescription medications, and ensure that our most vulnerable have long term access to healthcare through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But, really, wouldn't it just be better to start on Medicare For All?
The strength of the Texas economy will continue to draw more people to the state. A larger population will bring growth in sales tax revenue, property tax revenue, and direct consumer spending that will boost the economy. That’s the good part. However, there will also be challenges in three key areas: Infrastructure, housing, and transportation.

To keep up with the population, Texas has to plan for long term growth. More people will mean more housing. Texas is well positioned to meet this need with a strong construction industry and ample space. We also have to plan for direct public infrastructure such as schools, police and fire facilities as well as indirect infrastructure such as water and sewage and in flood prone areas, drainage and retention. In transportation, roads, bridges, highways are already a challenge and we should plan for revitalization of that infrastructure as well as incentivizing the growth and use of mass transit to alleviate some of these coming challenges.
At the national level, we don’t talk about how integral immigration is to our economy and how border security cannot be achieved with just a physical barrier. The people that know this best are the people who have lived for generations along the Texas U.S.-Mexico border. People in Texas’ urban centers live in close proximity to each other and know how to coexist, integrate, appreciate, and value different cultures. Rural communities value the immigrant labor force and its contribution to local economies. The vast majority of Texans value and appreciate the contributions of immigrants.

As a once undocumented immigrant, I know how my family and I love this country and this state. We worked hard to give and not take away. We also had to go through a long process to get naturalized. The immigrant families I know also love this country and would go through a fair process to continue to live and contribute to the country they already call home. We need to bring people out of the shadows.
I am an immigrant. I was an unwanted pregnancy, undocumented, and grew up in a disadvantaged community. I went to schools where not much was expected from us. My family was the victim of a sexual assault by a close family member. I got into Rice but had to drop out during my senior year because I couldn’t pay for school. I got arrested and put in jail only to have all charges dropped the next day. Each one of those experiences could have defined my life and led me in another direction, but along the way I was fortunate to have people around me who guided me.

I’m running for office because I know there are more people out there like me. People who if given the right opportunity in school and in life will be contributors back to society. We have to work to create communities and environments that will support the development of our youth, especially young people with stories like mine. If we can do that, we will all be better off as a country.
Age 61
Education Master of Industrial Engineering, University of Houston, Cullen College of Engineering MBA, University of Houston Bauer Buisness School
Campaign Phone 281-574-4652
Website PhilKurtzForCongress.nationbuilder.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TexasCongressionalDistrict9
Twitter @PhilKurtz3
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