Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

State Senate District 8

4-year term. Must be 21 years or older, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Texas, and a resident of the district represented. Responsible for representing the citizens of the district in which he/she is elected in the Texas Senate.

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  • Angela Paxton
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Mark Phariss
    (Dem)

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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 58
Education J.D., Vanderbilt Law School, Nashville, Tennessee, 1985 B.A., Magna cum laude, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, 1982 Institute of European Studies, affiliated with London School of Economics, London, England, Fall 1980
Campaign Phone (469) 298-9074
Website markphariss.com
Facebook facebook.com/MarkPharissforTexas
Twitter twitter.com/MarkPhariss
Our most critical issue in Texas is the failure of our legislators to adequately support and fund public education. Public education creates the future of a great state. But for years, we have watched our legislators ignore the needs of our teachers and students, cut funding, break promises to retired and future teachers, and then blame school districts for the resulting problems.

We need adequate, equitable school funding that meets our constitutional requirement to support an excellent public school system. We need to ensure our school funding formula reflects the actual cost of educating a child, so that districts with language and special education needs have the resources to succeed. And we need to recruit the excellent teachers Texas requires for a world-class public school system.

When politicians fail our schools, they fail our state. If elected, I would work to ensure bipartisan school funding bills are passed that address the real needs of our students.
Texas does not invest enough in public education, a failure that needs to be remedied now and is the primary cause of Texas’ high property taxes.

Texas is ranked 43rd in the nation in per pupil public education spending, and the state’s share of public education funding has declined over the last 10 years from 50% to 38%, forcing local communities to increase property taxes to make up the difference. If the state had maintained its prior share, local public school districts would have had an additional $18.6 billion.

I owe whatever success I’ve had in life to the education I received in K-12 public schools. If I am elected, I will work to make sure that the state’s 5.3 million school-age children receive the public education they deserve—not just because it will be my constitutional duty to do so, although it will be, but also because it is essential for our children to be prepared for the future.
I own a shotgun and used to hunt doves with friends in San Antonio. My uncle and brother hunted wild boar and deer. I support the Second Amendment, and have no desire to infringe on it.

However, I do support reasonable gun sense legislation that does not violate the Second Amendment. For example, I support: • Requiring universal background checks to buy a gun; • Barring those who are on no-fly or watch lists, subject to spousal abuse restraining orders, or mentally ill from purchasing a gun; • Incentivizing federal agencies to report criminal convictions so that background checks will be effective, as Senator John Cornyn has suggested; and • Banning the sale of bump stocks, as President Trump supported after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which 58 died and 851 were injured.

I believe my suggested gun sense solutions are compliant with the Second Amendment, and I am honored to be a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate.
I do not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If it is repealed, or invalidated as Texas’ Attorney General seeks in a court case, Texans will lose the protections provided by the ACA. For example, the prohibition on insurance companies denying insurance coverage based upon pre-existing conditions will be lost. Caps on lifetime payouts under health insurance plans will return as wel. The end result is more deaths and bankruptcies will occur.

America should be better than that. “We the People,” as stated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, formed our government to “promote the general Welfare” of its citizens. Healthcare is essential for our general welfare, and the government absolutely has a role in making sure that people have access to healthcare.
Three of the most critical are ensuring we have quality public education, a strong transportation system, and sufficient water resources for all. I’ve already spoken about the need to reform our public education funding.

Experts suggest congestion could increase by 60%. We need to ensure local communities have flexibility to fund their transportation projects, prioritize projects that reduce congestion and support mass transit efforts like high speed rail, seek an increase in federal transportation dollars, and as a last resort tap the rainy day fund for essential projects.

Demand for municipal water will increase by 60% by 2070, and our state will require more than 2 million additional acre feet per year. We need to use our resources responsibly so that our farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and industries have the water they need. Improving conservation, protecting the natural resources we have, and acquiring the water resources we need for a growing Texas is a critical priority.
Our country needs a secure border and our federal government should provide one, but our policies should be based on facts, not fears. In providing that security, we should never lose our basic values, morals, and compassion, as we did when we removed children from the arms of their parents. We should also make sure that our immigration policies -- which are set by the federal government and not by the state -- allow entry of those who will provide skills that are needed for our country and economy to flourish.
My mother, who passed in 1986, was very devout. She rose every morning at 5 a.m. to read the Bible for an hour and have her devotional. She made sure all of her children -- all 4 of us -- attended church every Sunday, Bible School every summer, and even an occasional revival.

We were always taught that “as you do to the least of these you do unto me.” So, at Christmas time, we -- my mother, my siblings and I -- would gather in the kitchen to make cookies, fudge, and candies for shut-ins and those in nursing homes. My mother would play the piano and we would all sign Christmas carols. Those we sang to seemed to love it even though I can’t carry a tune.

That sense of “doing for the least of these” -- instilled by my parents and my faith -- is the principal reason I am running for office. It is the reason that my focus as a candidate is on investing in public education for our children, the “least of these.” And it will be a guiding principle for all of my decisions.