University of New Hampshire
Arizona State University
I firmly believe that the future of Texas must include a strong educational system, one that is adequately funded. We must insist that more funding is directed where it has the maximum impact; in the classroom on teacher pay and focused on the early grades, to directly influence a child’s future academic success. We must ensure that our children are reading proficiently by third grade for academic success in all areas throughout their education. As for our tax structure, the property tax system is flawed and pernicious. We must be cognizant of the increasingly heavy burden placed on local property taxpayers. I will work with Gov. Greg Abbott and state lawmakers to improve the currently flawed “Robin Hood" system of funding and ease the burden on local taxpayers, especially our senior citizens.
Great care needs to be taken when the Legislature dips into the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund” where 85% of these funds come from oil and gas profits, an industry which can be subject to unpredictable “up and down” cycles. The Legislature recently used some of these funds to help finance the construction of highways, because for many years, gas tax money in Fund 6 has been diverted away from transportation expenditures. The Rainy Day Fund is not a slush fund, and should only be used for a true “Rainy Day”, such as a budget shortfall due to economic crisis, extreme natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, or a response to a terrorist attack.
I understand parents' concerns about their children’s safety. Our schools must be safe harbors for teachers and students. We must enforce the laws currently on the books & make public safety a priority over political agendas. The uptick in mass shootings is a societal problem that requires suspicious behavior to be reported and taken seriously by law enforcement at all levels. Consideration must be given to cultural factors that play a part in deviant behaviors. What violent games, movies, & music videos are condoned in our society? Mental health issues & drugs administered must be properly addressed with regard to violent, anti-social behaviors. Further gun
restrictions only hurt law-abiding citizens & put them in jeopardy of not being able to defend themselves.
Like any Dallas citizen, I experience the frustration of traffic in the DFW Metroplex. I am thrilled that the LBJ East project made it off the drawing board in May with the blessing of TxDOT. I will work to ensure that District 114 & the Metroplex get the transportation funding necessary to accommodate our growing needs. Legislation such as H.B. 20, passed in 2015, helps ensure that transportation funds are administered in an objective & transparent manner with accountability for the funds spent, to avoid "political" spending. Toll roads within a metropolitan area can be an effective tool to provide needed infrastructure, depending on how the contract is written.
Candidate response is not yet available.
A.B. Harvard University
J.D. Yale Law School
Texas must increase its investment in public education. Today, Texas is near the bottom among the fifty states in its level of per-student funding. School districts like Dallas ISD and Richardson ISD need funding to recruit and retain quality teachers, to keep class sizes manageable, to support good career and technical education, to offer quality pre-K programs, and to provide tutors and summer school for kids who need extra help. My work as an attorney for one of the major school district coalitions in the Texas school finance litigation – which sought better funding for all Texas schools – impressed upon me the importance of adequate resources for public education. This would be a top priority for me as a legislator.
The Rainy Day fund currently holds about $10 billion. There is no reason our state should be sitting on such a large volume of unused tax dollars. Up to 2006, the fund never ended a fiscal year with a balance of more than $1 billion. I would favor directing several billion dollars toward public education, and using additional amounts for other purposes, including high-priority infrastructure needs. The primary purpose of this fund should be to help address temporary revenue shortfalls in the event of a recession. We should maintain a balance sufficient to do that. But we should not be boasting about how much tax money we are taking in but are using for no public purpose.
The recent series of mass shootings demands that we ask what we can do to reduce the frequency of these horrific events. The answers are not simple, and we must not blame responsible gun owners for these terrible acts. But we can take sensible steps to make it harder for would-be killers to obtain guns, without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. One such step, widely supported across party lines, would be universal background checks for gun purchases. Loopholes still exist that allow convicted felons and domestic abusers to purchase guns. These should be closed. I also believe we must maintain our training and permit requirements for carrying handguns, consistent with our tradition of safe and responsible gun ownership.
Texas must continue to invest in its highways. Good roads lead to stronger economic growth and better quality of life. As for tolled lanes: paying tolls understandably frustrates many Dallas residents. We should not make tolled lanes the centerpiece of our future highway system. That said, there are cases in which tolled roads or optional managed lanes make sense, but: (1) we should avoid having too many of them; (2) we should evaluate all proposals carefully to ensure that they would truly reduce congestion on non-tolled lanes and roads, and (3) tolls should preferably end when no longer needed to pay for construction costs.
First, the next legislative session will be a crossroads for Texas public education. We must truly support our public schools and help them succeed, and not start down a road of privatizing our system. Next, health care will be a critical issue. The Legislature’s unjustified refusal to accept federal funds to expand health coverage has placed increased burdens on local taxpayers to fund uncompensated care. Next, we must defend the important principle of local control for our local city and county governments. Finally, this is a year when elected leaders at all levels must reject polarization, rediscover decency, and refocus on unifying American values such as the rule of law and the principles of liberty and justice for all.