ON THE ISSUES
Property Tax Reform
The property tax crisis in Texas is the result of Republican fiscal policies at the state level. By withdrawing support for public education and keeping loopholes open for large, commercial and industrial properties, Republicans have allowed the tax burden to slam onto the backs of homeowners and small businesses. Four more years of Dan Patrick’s leadership means much higher property taxes, and there simply won’t be enough money to run our state.
Dan Patrick’s budget, passed just a few months ago, says this: “Property values and the taxes on which they are based shall be increased 7.04% in school year 2017 and 6.77% in school year 2018.”
As Lt. Governor I will fight to reverse Dan Patrick’s failed fiscal policies, starting with closing the property tax loopholes, and use the recovered revenues to fund education and reduce property taxes for homeowners and small business.
Public education is Texas’ highest priority because a skilled, educated workforce is essential to our prosperity as a state. Texas should lead the nation in public school excellence and have the world’s top-ranked universities. We should be prepared to innovate and invest accordingly, while driving efficient use of resources. I am strongly opposed to high stakes testing and vouchers. Tuition for all forms of higher education should be within the reach of working and middle class Texas families.
Create the Texas Audit, Performance, and Integrity Commission – And Stop Corruption for Good
I will seek a constitutional amendment creating a highly innovative Audit, Performance, and Integrity Commission (“APIC”) as a fail-safe, politics-free, permanent solution to waste and corruption in government. The scope of the commission will be financial audits, performance audits, and public integrity assurance. Governance of the commission will be completely shielded from political influence, and APIC will start a revolution in good government and position Texas as Number One in terms of transparency, financial responsibility, and trust.
Quarterly Revenue Forecasts
Texas must reform and modernize our budgeting process, adopting best practices from business to make better fiscal decisions and hold budget writers to the highest standard of accountability. Quarterly revenue forecasts should be at the center of these reforms.
Living Wage, Access to Affordable Health Care, and Income Inequality
Financial security and economic opportunity for working and middle class Texans should be of paramount importance to Texas leaders. I will promote policies (such as education, responsible labor policies, fair taxation) that allow Texans who are willing to work hard to close the income inequality gap while stimulating overall economic growth. I support labor unions in Texas, and I support policies that promote a living wage, an increase in the minimum wage, access to affordable health care, and retirement security.
Respect for Diversity and Inclusiveness
All Texans should be treated with respect, and they should be treated equally under the law. I will support legislation that promotes this principle and I will oppose legislation that is designed to discriminate against any Texan regardless of faith, race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, or socio-economic status.
We must secure our border, but we must do it effectively and efficiently. My policies will include efficient coordination among local state and national agencies, use of enabling technologies, due consideration of the rights of property owners, and support for a thriving trade relationship with Mexico.
Reform Water Management
In coastal regions of the state, we are not ready for the next storm. We MUST build coastal storm protection and take other steps to preserve our cherished Texas coast and coastal communities. As someone who spends all of his free time on a sailboat somewhere on Galveston Bay, or sitting on a Texas beach reading a good book, Mike is devoted to the Texas coast (or Texas Treasure!) and will fight to preserve our coast, our wetlands, our coastal environment, and our coastal communities.
Other parts of the state are running out of water. Texas must begin the process of moving to a One Water concept (see One Water published by the Mitchell Foundation). Without rational water planning and management (a wholistic approach to protecting water rights, conserving water, capturing run-off, and protecting our rivers, lakes, streams, and aquifers) we won’t leave for our children the wonderful Texas we love today. Nor will be maintain our growth and prosperity.
Investment in vital women’s health programs must be restored. Decisions involving pregnancy should be left to the woman, her doctor, and her faith; I will oppose legislation that is inconsistent with this principle. Raised a Catholic, I intend to work very hard to reduce the need for abortion services by investing in women’s health services, including sex education, contraception, and adoption.
Environment, Safety, Climate Change
We must hold Texas businesses to a very high standard of environmental protection and safety. Conversion from coal-fired to gas-fired electricity generation is essential to reduce carbon concentrations in the atmosphere, and Texas should be the leader in technological innovation and commercialization of clean energy.
Texas companies should hire Texans first, and guest workers and their families should be treated with empathy and respect. Texas should provide leadership around comprehensive immigration reform, including a guest worker program and a path to citizenship that is efficiently, fairly, and consistently administered. Local law enforcement should be given the latitude they need to keep Texans safe, and I will oppose government overreach that limits local law enforcement’s autonomy and produces greater danger to Texans.
Restoring Compassion to Texas Public Policy
Republican political leaders in Texas have abandoned human compassion as a governing philosophy. From children born into abject poverty or dangerous surroundings, to adults suffering from mental illness, to working poor who cannot afford health care, to the elderly who depend on state support, there are millions of Texans who cannot help themselves. Texans are a generous, compassionate people and we are ready to invest in properly designed, fiscally responsible programs that help those who cannot help themselves.
Second Amendment Rights
My first duty as Lt. Governor will be to protect the Second Amendment and all other aspects of the U.S. Constitution. However, I will encourage Texans to talk openly, as we once did, about reasonable policies that will promote gun safety.
Texans cherish democracy and demand the right to vote. This applies to the poor as well as the rich. I will oppose legislation that deliberately disenfranchises any class of voter, and I will support legislation that ensures every person eligible to vote can do so without fear and frustration.
Campaign Finance Reform
Texas campaign finance laws are specifically designed to corrupt the democratic process. There are no limits to the money special interests can launder through political action committees and campaign accounts. I support comprehensive campaign finance reform, including contribution limits, prohibitions on “dark money” pools, and state matching funds for qualifying candidates.
Gerrymandering is the root cause of our political crisis in America and it has led to a single party system in Texas that is corrupt and inefficient. I support a constitutional amendment calling for citizen-drawn or computer-drawn districts for both state legislative and U.S. Congressional districts.
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