Priorities

Building Tomorrow’s Texas

 

It starts with education

422847_494140093976328_787475597_nWe all know that the key to economic prosperity is education. In 2011, the legislature passed dramatic — and unconstitutional — cuts to education funding totalling $5.4 billion, and pre-K was hit especially hard. While some of the funds were restored last session, it’s time to fully restore the funding that our schools deserve — we can’t keep asking local districts to do more with less and less money. I think a universal, full-day pre-K program is the best way to start our kids on the path to success. And while pre-K is hugely important, we also need to work on increasing high school graduation rates, and making sure that those graduates have the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce, and access to higher education that’s affordable.

But it’s important to remember that if we can’t come together in Austin to pass a bill that accomplishes all of our goals, we don’t give up. We work to find incremental solutions that everyone can agree on. The bottom line? Rather than cutting from our schools we must invest in our children — and the more we invest in our kids, the brighter our future will be.

 

Invest in STEM, and stop overemphasizing tests

It’s imperative that we recruit more math and science teachers: These subjects are necessary to compete in today’s modern workforce. In addition, we should increase access to university alternatives like vocational schools, career technology programs and community college.

I feel strongly that an overemphasis on standardized testing has poisoned the classroom learning environment. We can’t just teach to a test; instead, we need to give teachers the resources they need and the freedom they deserve to do their jobs and be creative with lessons. We ought to use testing as a diagnostic means for improvement, not as a stamp of approval.

 

Get Texans covered

This is clear: Too many Texans do not have health insurance. The coverage gap places an unnecessary burden on local taxpayers as local communities front the bill for overcrowded and overused emergency rooms. As a legislative body, we need to find a solution. One option? Counties should be able to apply directly for Medicaid expansion funds without having to go through Austin.

 

Sustainable infrastructure

There has been too much talk and not enough action when it comes to funding highway and water infrastructure projects. The needs of Texans will continue to grow, and our ability to attract and retain business will hinge on the investment we make in sustaining our basic infrastructure.

 

An electoral system for the 21st century

With our state’s oppressive voter ID laws and a paperwork-heavy voter registration system, it’s hard to be surprised by our incredibly low voter turnout numbers. But it doesn’t have to be that way — the Legislature should work together to bring Texans online voter registration and solutions that make it easier to vote, not support stringent voter ID laws that make it harder. I believe that every eligible Texan should be able to cast a ballot in their local and statewide elections. When more people are engaged in the electoral process, leaders in Austin will reflect Texan values more clearly, and we’ll continue on a smoother path to success.

 

Equal rights for all Texans

It’s 2015. Women should not be earning less than men for doing the same jobs, and same-sex couples should not be prohibited from marrying. Anything less than equality is unacceptable, and I want to see Texas move forward with the rest of America.