Texas clearly does not spend enough per student. The basic allotment per student, expanding our pre-K campuses and offering more wraparound services at schools around the state is an obvious start to direct increased spending. Since 2008, property owners and local tax authorities have had to make up for the $18B shortfall that has been enacted since the state reduced it’s subsidization of budget from 50% to 37%. Your education shouldn’t be determined by where you’re born in our state or how much your parents’ property is worth-if they have any property at all. Regarding funding, our state is enjoying a healthy sales tax surplus and its revenues along with the Rainy Day fund should be considered for funding in the short term. In the long term, we have to get more Democrats in state government so that we can finally address the dysfunctional nature of our school funding formula. At present, with one party leadership, we are at a political stalemate that shortchanges our children and Texas property owners. There are a variety of options on the table for this formula, from consolidating local authorities to centralizing and simplifying our property tax jurisdictions.
We need to talk about how we are spending resources; millions of dollars have been taken away from our women’s health care network and re-assigned to ideological groups with no oversight. This has created waste and an additional burden on public hospitals and emergency rooms. We must save money and reallocate. I also believe the Texas legislature should support the high speed rail proposed between Houston and Dallas which would ease damage to roads in the long term and ease the public burden for infrastructure costs during its construction. This proposed route would mean great things for Texas business which would also add revenue to our budget in the long term.
Bail bond reform is a top priority. All around Texas, counties and cities are spending significant taxpayer monies jailing people over non-violent crimes, traffic infractions and keeping them from their jobs and families because they can not pay what is sometimes a $150 bail fee. It is completely unjust to jail people for being poor and it is fiscally irresponsible. The aims of any future reforms by our legislature should be focused on accountability for police, citizens, defendants, prisoners and the families of prisoners alike. In addition, the state of Texas should form a commission to research the ways to eliminate the school to prison pipeline that often traps young men and women of color within the criminal justice system, creating an undue financial burden on taxpayers.
What I hear from many voters is a need to return local control to our counties and municipalities. Cities should be allowed to have open debate about raising the minimum wage and not fear overarching obstruction from those in Austin. Texas has done a great job at making our state open for business but what about those who work at these businesses? When we grant tax abatements and land use deals, we need to know more about the standards for pay and benefits at the companies we have welcomed to our state.
SB4 is one of the most dishonorable and ineffective pieces of legislation that has passed through the chambers of our state legislature. The current Republican Representative, Matt Rinaldi, proved the true, racially motivated nature of the bill when he called ICE on protesters peacefully assembling to protest this racist and ineffective law. Furthermore, the overreach from Austin that would punish police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to enforce these bans is another example of how Republican statewide leadership has attacked local control.