Issues

Property Tax Relief

Because of previous shortsighted decisions Texas has a structural deficit. We start every two-year budget cycle with approximately $10 billion dollars less than we need. These costs have been pushed down to our local school districts who are forced to pay for services by raising property taxes. Yet, our property tax system favors commercial property to the detriment of homeowners who are struggling with an ever-increasing tax burden. I believe we need to create new, dedicated revenue streams in order to alleviate these burdens on Texas families while helping make homeownership in Austin affordable again. I will lead the fight to give local governments and school districts more control of the money they take in and pay out, including the ability to expand the homestead exemption –enacting a flat rate exemption instead of a percentage.

Because of previous shortsighted decisions Texas has a structural deficit. We start every two-year budget cycle with approximately $10 billion dollars less than we need.

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Strong Neighborhood Schools

Giving every child the best opportunity starts with a strong neighborhood school. I will fight to ensure my two daughters and all of our children have every opportunity to receive the best education experience possible. We cannot continue to starve our schools of resources and expect them to succeed. In 2011, the state legislature cut more than $5 billion in education funding, though they have restored some of those funds in subsequent sessions, many ISD’s, including those in Central Texas, are still receiving less funding than they were more than 5 years ago. I will use my nearly decade of experience stopping bad bills in the legislature to stop cuts to education and fight the voucher plans that Dan Patrick will once again promote next legislative session.

Giving every child the best opportunity starts with a strong neighborhood school. I will fight to ensure my two daughters and all of our children have every opportunity to receive the best education experience possible.

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Universal Pre-K

As the father of two young children, I know a strong education is the foundation for a successful future. Research shows that early childhood education can be one of the most important factors in future academic success. Texas ranks 29th in state pre-kindergarten program funding and has not restored all of the grant money that was cut from Pre-K programs in 2011. I will make this investment in future generations of Texans a priority, to prepare them for success in elementary school and beyond.

As the father of two young children, I know a strong education is the foundation for a successful future. Research shows that early childhood education can be one of the most important factors in future academic success.

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Transportation and Traffic Headaches

Population growth in Texas has meant more cars on the road. Unfortunately our infrastructure has not kept up because we have not raised the gas tax to correspond with inflation. The Legislature has also enacted a scheme to take other general revenue funds to shore up the transportation budget because they don’t have the courage to be honest about our growing state’s needs. This leads local communities stuck in traffic. In order to maintain our success and grow in ways that protect our quality of life, I will not stand by and let the Republicans in the legislature continue to divert funds from vital programs that our state is counting on. Texas must stop the shell games and accounting tricks and address our road quality, safety, transportation and infrastructure problems.

Population growth in Texas has meant more cars on the road. Unfortunately our infrastructure has not kept up because we have not raised the gas tax to correspond with inflation.

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Increase Access to Healthcare and Medicaid

Texas currently has the highest uninsured rate in the country and we rank last among states in health care delivery, yet our state is giving up $100 Billion in Federal healthcare funding over the next decade. At the same time uninsured patients are costing our hospitals $5.5 Billion a year in unreimbursed care. This is hurting vulnerable citizens who desperately need help and it is hurting every other program in need of additional funding, all to satisfy Tea Party extremists. Every Texan would benefit from this federal help; from the 5 million Texans who go uninsured to Texas hospitals who bear the burden of providing care. Even the business community recognizes we gain nothing by refusing to expand Medicaid, while the expansion could help create 300,000 Texas jobs. I will fight to expand Medicaid to get Texas the critical funding we need while providing about 1.5 million uninsured Texans affordable medical coverage.

Texas currently has the highest uninsured rate in the country and we rank last among states in health care delivery, yet our state is giving up $100 Billion in Federal healthcare funding over the next decade.

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Reproductive Healthcare

Since 2011 the state legislature has dismantled the family planning safety net in the state of Texas. In 2014, 1 in 3 Texas women did not have a regular healthcare provider. Instead of giving these women the resources they need to access quality care, the state is instead steering funds to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which often give dangerously inaccurate medical information. We cannot allow the state to make political decisions when administering our Federal health care dollars. We should identify those Federal streams of revenue and find entities other than the state to administer them. This has been a successful model with the Title X family planning program and should be expanded. I will use my more than a decade of experience to continue to be a leader in the fight to fully fund comprehensive reproductive health care.

Since 2011 the state legislature has dismantled the family planning safety net in the state of Texas. In 2014, 1 in 3 Texas women did not have a regular healthcare provider.

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Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

Tea Party extremists in our state legislature and governor’s mansion have used sham laws and political tactics to systematically eliminate women’s access to abortion services in Texas. Republicans have taken away the ability for women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions in Texas by passing measures that impose undue burdens on Texans who have decided that an abortion is the best decision for them and placing impossible restrictions on their healthcare providers forcing many to close. I have spent my career fighting to protect the right to safe, legal abortion guaranteed to all women by the U.S. Supreme Court. A right that has been reaffirmed over and over since being granted by Roe v Wade, 43 years ago. In the House, I will continue to be on the frontline against these attacks on Texas families and the attacks on their guaranteed right to access the healthcare services they choose.

Tea Party extremists in our state legislature and governor’s mansion have used sham laws and political tactics to systematically eliminate women’s access to abortion services in Texas.

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Passing a Progressive Agenda

It would be easy to lose hope and assume a Progressive Agenda will never get passed in the Conservative Texas Legislature. The same coalitions that come together to prevent bad laws from being passed can be rallied to pass essential progressive laws. I will work with Republicans on ideas where we can find common ground and not be afraid to stand up to them and demand they do better when they are wrong.

It would be easy to lose hope and assume a Progressive Agenda will never get passed in the Conservative Texas Legislature. The same coalitions that come together to prevent bad laws from being passed can be rallied to pass essential progressive laws.

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Protecting the Environment

Republicans recently passed SB 709 (2015) which obscures independent review and public scrutiny of dangerous factories, chemical plants, and other very harmful projects and makes it easier for bad actors to hide their activities in the shadows. I will prioritize repealing these provisions and restore the permitting process so the public can have more input into industries that will harm the environment. Texans know that the next drought is always just around the corner and the future of our cities depends on access to enough water. We must protect our rivers from over use and promote more water efficient cities as well as create incentives for businesses and local governments to reduce water consumption.

Republicans recently passed SB 709 (2015) which obscures independent review and public scrutiny of dangerous factories, chemical plants, and other very harmful projects and makes it easier for bad actors to hide their activities in the shadows.

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Public Pensions

Many of our neighbors and family members spent their careers working in public service believing the state would protect the pensions they were promised and worked hard for when they retired. Now, Gov. Abbott has appointed the vice president of a conservative foundation to the state’s pension review board. We must be vigilant in keeping our pension plans well-funded so they are not subject to false attacks by the very people who have set them up to fail by starving them of resources. My experience as the clerk of the pensions committee in the Texas House gives me the detailed knowledge necessary to stay a step ahead of these attacks and raise the alarm before permanent damage can be done.

Many of our neighbors and family members spent their careers working in public service believing the state would protect the pensions they were promised and worked hard for when they retired.

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Paid Family and Medical Leave

Texas currently has no Family and Medical Leave Act. This means that people who need to take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or to be caregivers for a sick family member only have protections of unpaid leave provided under Federal law. I want to support Texas workers and families by implementing leave that provides wage replacement so the promise of job security is not an illusion. I will support paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, without regard to marital status or sexual orientation.

Texas currently has no Family and Medical Leave Act. This means that people who need to take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or to be caregivers for a sick family member only have protections of unpaid leave provided under Federal law.

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