Collin College, BS Psychology Texas A&M University- Commerce (2005), MS Psychology Texas A&M University- Commerce (2008)
Collective nine years of advocating for children in the foster care system as a state employee and as a CASA volunteer. I interacted with numerous state agencies and saw firsthand how decisions made in Austin impact families.
The formula used to determine recapture amounts need to be redesigned from scratch to make it more responsive to Texas’s growing population and changing communities. As it is now, some of our school districts are carrying too heavy of a burden. The state should increase its share of education funding and rely less on property taxes. Each school district will need to reassess their specific taxation needs after the formula is redesigned and the state increases its contribution. Money collected for education should be spent on education and not used to pay for other items in the budget.
Our district is growing faster than our roads can accommodate. I support the county’s plan to construct more corridors. If taxpayers approve this plan then they will be funded through municipal bonds. We have to be realistic about the growth in our county and realize that by the time those projects are completed they may no longer be adequate. Plans need to be developed to get more commuters off the roads. This includes expanding the presence and use of public transportation. Those projects would be funded through public-private partnerships, federal grants and loans, and contributions from cities.
We know that teachers are the most important in-school factor of a child’s academic success. We need to compensate our teachers fairly for their work and protect their retirement so that talented educators can afford to stay in the profession of their choice. I support the Texas Commission on Public School Finance’s Outcomes Committee’s recommendations to expand pre-K, to eliminate or replace the end-of-course STAAR assessments, and to support Career/Technical Education that produce career-ready certification.
I would accept the expansion of Medicaid. Through federal income taxes, Texans already pay most of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, but they are not reaping the benefits. Their money is going to other states instead of staying here. Accepting the Medicaid expansion would greatly reduce the burden on local hospital districts, which are funded through property taxes. Even counties without hospital districts pay because they compensate the neighboring hospital districts when their residents use them. Taxpayers are essentially being double billed for these services and insurance premiums stay high. I would also promote greater transparency in medical billing.
Update the State Hazard Mitigation Plan to reflect changing weather patterns and vulnerability to risk in each disaster district in Texas. The state (as well as cities and counties) should take advantage of cost matching federal grants for civil engineering projects that reduce the impact of natural disasters.
Texas leads the nation both in the rate of mothers who die within one year of child birth and in the number of children who die from maltreatment. Poor mental health and substance abuse are big factors in both of these tragic outcomes. Texas needs to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services to people who ask for help. Drug courts have been found to be more effective than conventional corrections approaches, such as jail time, and need to be expanded to more jurisdictions.
Plano Senior High School (2001), Baylor University (2005, BA, Political Science), SMU Dedman School of Law (2009, Juris Doctor)
Vice Chair of the House Committee on Urban Affairs & Member of the House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development. Previously served on the House Committees on Criminal Jurisprudence, Gov. Transparency & Operation and Rules & Resolutions.
I am staunchly committed to implementing meaningful property tax relief for all homeowners – many of which are on a fixed income and feel the growing threat of being taxed out of their homes. As a policymaker, this is unacceptable and true, systemic reform must be a top priority next session. I believe we must start by reforming our system of school finance. First, we must end the punitive practice of “Robin Hood” and increase the state’s share of funding toward public education. Rather than creating a new revenue source or raising taxes, I believe we must re-prioritize our state budget to ensure that core functions of state government, including education, are funding appropriately. Transparency is a key component to initiating meaningful reforms in all areas of government, which is why I have authored and supported legislation adding transparency to all areas of the budget. I will continue my advocacy to repeal the franchise tax - which I believe to be flawed from its inception.
During the 84th Legislature, I was proud to co-author legislation creating a new funding mechanism – without raising taxes or fees – for public, non-tolled transportation projects to ensure that people and products can move across the state more safely and efficiently. With the exponential rate of growth expected in Texas in the coming years - much of which is in Collin County - we must continue to invest in our state’s critical infrastructure to meet the demands of and to serve the Texans of today and the future Texans of tomorrow. Transportation infrastructure is a core function of government that must continue to be addressed head-on with bold, fiscally conservative solutions... just as we've done in recent legislative sessions.
We have a duty and moral obligation to improve and reform public education by ensuring that every child in Texas receives a top-notch education at every level. While I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in this area, our work continues to ensure that every student graduates on time and on a solid path towards career readiness – whether through college or vocational training. Our system of school finance plays a key role in increasing educational opportunities for all Texans - especially those who are underprivileged and economically disadvantaged. Most notably, we MUST end the punitive practice of "Robin Hood” and work to improve and build more outcome-based policies for our public schools. In addition to reforming our state’s punitive STAAR testing regime and ending our over-reliance on standardized testing, we must prioritize school safety at the highest level, while making good on the promises that have been made to our retired teachers by adequately investing in TRS & TRS Care.
There are various ways for the state to address rising healthcare costs – starting with improving our shortage of physicians and nurses. Since taking the oath of office in 2013, the Legislature has passed various measures to attract more physicians by investing in additional residency slots. Most significantly, we passed landmark legislation authorizing qualified 2-year colleges to provide 4-year baccalaureate nursing programs. This was a huge win for Collin County, and Collin College is now on track to begin offering these 4-year baccalaureate degrees in the very near future. Additionally, we must deliberate policies that allow for certain skilled nursing positions to take on various tasks that physicians are currently undertaking - while investing in additional mental & behavioral health resources to ensure that our communities are able to better support this growing need. Finally, it is past time for the state to adequately invest in TRS Care for our state's retired teachers.
Hurricane Harvey shocked our citizens to the core – and it was a grave reminder of the significance of preserving and protecting our state’s Economic Stabilization Fund – also known as the “Rainy Day Fund.” There is no question that the Texas Legislature will tap into the Rainy Day Fund next session to address ongoing recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey. While the exact amount of the Rainy Day Fund appropriation is yet to be determined, it is more critical than ever that we work to preserve and protect these “emergency” funds and limit spending to state emergencies – which is what the fund was intended for. As Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Urban Affairs, I am proud of our bi-partisan, collective work to adequately address our state's response to recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey - specifically as it relates to the housing needs within our coastal communities.
My top priorities include, but are not limited to, school finance & property tax reform, school safety, border security, criminal justice reform, transportation and water infrastructure, and addressing the ongoing epidemic of human trafficking.