Residents of House District 66 are immensely proud of their public schools - so am I. I believe that public schools are the foundation of our neighborhoods, our communities, and our democracy, and that how we treat our children and how we teach our children is critical to our future.
We know that education provides both a private benefit to the individual student and a public benefit to society. I will defend and strengthen our public schools by working to provide staff, students, and parents the resources they need to be successful. Investing in public education is good for Texans and good for business. On this important issue, I support:
Updating and modernizing the school funding formula to reflect the current and future needs of our growing student population. This must include reduction or elimination of recapture and the inclusion of additional state funding for education.
Reduction of mandated standardized testing and a focus on individual student progress.
Quality, universal Pre-K programs.
The continuation of the TRS defined benefit pension plan. A secure retirement is a valuable incentive in recruiting and retaining our teacher workforce.
A comprehensive, long-range solution to TRS-Care to ensure sustainability and decrease uncertainty in the future.
Finally, I do not support vouchers or any other schemes, such as educational savings accounts and tax credit scholarships, that divert funding from public schools.
I believe that all Texans who are willing to work hard should have the economic opportunity and a fair shot at earning a living wage in a safe environment. Everyone should have a chance to benefit from the explosive growth our district is experiencing.
While House District 66 is home to an educated, dedicated workforce, some of our neighbors still find themselves unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise struggling. I will work hard to improve economic outcomes for everyone in our community.
Health & Well-being
It is important to support and enact policies that enhance our health and well-being. As with education, good health provides both a private benefit to an individual and a public benefit to society. There are numerous areas of concern where legislative efforts could affect positive outcomes for Texans. This includes expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, which has proven to improve health outcomes, reduce uncompensated care costs, and drive economic growth in the 32 states which have done so.
Healthcare is essential; ignoring its challenges will be catastrophic. Our goal should be to have healthy citizens able to live productive lives.
Narrow, singularly focused statewide policies and laws cannot serve all of the almost 28 million Texans equally or effectively. Our current statewide governing bodies have been too focused on the perceived needs and desires of only certain constituencies at the expense of others.
My goal is to bring a more wide-angle and accommodating perspective to the role of governing by our state legislature. Local elected officials often have a closer understanding of their communities than those legislating from Austin. By respecting local control, the state legislature can help school districts, city councils, and other governing bodies more effectively lead.
Ultimately, it is up to citizens to determine the quality of services we want in our communities, and we must then find a way to cover the costs they entail. Our heavy reliance on property taxes to fund the basic business of government has meant that we have few alternative sources of revenue when roads must be widened, schools built, and critical services like police and fire provided throughout a growing region.
In addition, school finance reform is a prerequisite for property tax relief. Until the state restores a responsible level of funding to our schools, rising property taxes will remain a challenge for local communities.
I fully support equal rights for all women. I will work to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. I respect and support a woman’s right to choice and privacy when making personal healthcare decisions, and believe government must not be used as a tool to intervene between a woman and her family, friends, faith community, and physician. I will advocate for access to low-cost health care and contraceptives, quality prenatal and postpartum care, and paid family leave.
I support a comprehensive approach to our infrastructure needs. We cannot simply pave our way out of gridlock. Combining new lanes, improvements to existing infrastructure, ride-sharing opportunities, alternative worksite arrangements, public transportation, and new technology like driverless cars will serve to make mobility more efficient.
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and we must halt and reverse the steady degradation of this right. I believe that eligible voters should be encouraged to vote, not the opposite. That means expanding voting locations and hours, extending early voting, instituting secure online voter registration, and rolling back the discriminatory voter ID requirements that our current government has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars defending in court. Unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud seek to limit Texans’ right to choose their representatives, and I will not go along with this.
In addition, I will seek to stop the partisan gerrymandering that has led to untenable political polarization. We have the knowledge and expertise to draw boundaries that result in better representation for all.
Simply put: Government can work, and it will work, when we elect representatives willing to work together on issues important to those they are elected to serve. We cannot fall prey to tribal politics which seek to pit us against our neighbors over wedge issues and undermine the function of our government.
During the most recent legislative session, our state government passed the anti-immigrant SB4, which allows local law enforcement to question the immigration status of anyone they detain and could make something as minor as a traffic stop the first step toward deportation. I believe that “show me your papers” laws have no place in Texas.
I strongly support reentry into the federal refugee resettlement program. Refugees who apply dedicate years to working through stringent security screenings and present no danger to our communities. They may be fleeing famine, war, or political oppression, and Texas should strive to be welcoming and generous with our opportunity, security, and freedom.
The facts show that immigrants are frequently among the most hardworking and law-abiding members of our communities, and I believe a diverse state is a strong state.
Gun control is fundamentally a public health issue. On this deeply divisive topic, our legislature must find the sort of common ground that we find among ourselves. Measures we can take include requiring background checks for all gun purchases, enacting red flag and safe storage laws, and supporting fingerprint technology. I also believe that assault-style rifles have no place in our communities and that the continued propagation of these weapons is ultimately to the detriment of public safety. We cannot continue to do nothing simply because we cannot agree on everything.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our criminal justice system should be refocused on the rehabilitation of offenders and the restoration of our communities. We need to rethink our response to minor offenses, and one of the first steps we can take is to legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Like alcohol, this can be well regulated and taxed to provide a new revenue source for our state. Additionally, we must take steps toward meaningful bail reform and move to a system of risk-based assessments with regard to incarceration.
Today, law enforcement faces many challenges, including new difficulties and responsibilities stemming from recent, ill-conceived open carry and immigration legislation. I believe that with a return to common sense, our communities and our men and women in uniform can better support each other.
Over the past decade, Texas has made tremendous progress in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and moving toward a green energy future, but there is more work to be done. As we have become the national leader in wind power, we must continue to raise the bar and encourage additional forms of renewable energy to diversify and strengthen our grid and to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors of our economy. We can accomplish this through a mix of energy policies including implementation of a revenue neutral carbon tax, passing standardized net metering rules, and offering financial incentives to offset the cost of energy efficient improvements to residential and commercial structures.
Sustainability & Environment
We cannot discount the value of clean air, clean water, and the natural beauty Texas has to offer its residents. As our population continues to grow, it is critical that we prioritize sustainability in our communities and work to protect our environment. While many in our legislature claim to support local control, they have made an unfortunate habit of attacking communities for their attempts to implement measures like plastic bag fees to reduce waste and maintain a clean environment, and in the case of Denton, went so far as to explicitly overturn the will of the people to ban fracking in their backyards. This heavy-handed approach wherein the state dictates local environmental policy is holding back a groundswell of support for common sense measures to maintain a healthy environment for generations of Texans to come.
The availability of clean drinking water will continue to be an issue as our state’s population grows and catastrophic weather events erode our supplies. Conservation is the least expensive and controversial way to protect our water supply and must be a key component of our plan. It is also important that we come up with a comprehensive strategy of infrastructure investment which is both economically feasible and environmentally friendly.
Texas employs a five year water plan to guide water management strategies across the state. The capital cost of the projects suggested in the 2017 water plan totals $63 billion over 50 years, $36.2 billion of which will require financial assistance from the state. Only 14% of projects suggested in the 2012 plan were implemented, and it is clear that we must do more to prioritize management of this critical resource.
As a member of the Plano Cultural Affairs Commission, I stand behind our artistic community. My first step on your behalf will be to defend the Texas Film Commission so that our state’s film industry can continue to educate, empower, and entertain us all.