Improving primary education requires reforming our school finance system. All public schools should be able to provide the quality education that will prepare their students for the job market or college. As a School Board Trustee for 13 years, I realize the scope of these challenges and am prepared to meet them.
Education is the most important issue handled by the state of Texas. Kids who receive a high-quality education are far more likely to end up in successful marriages, to have high-paying jobs, to be healthy, and to become middle-class. When we don’t give our youth the chance to succeed in their school, we’re robbing him of a better quality of life for decades to come. As technology and automation disrupt the labor market and create higher demand for more-educated workers, we need to ensure every kid is getting a quality K-12 education so they are able to compete in the modern economy.
Texas cities have seen tremendous population growth in the past two decades. This has left many hazardous waste sites that were once out in the country within city limits. Recently, I help arrange the cleaning of a long-standing tire dump in San Antonio, where over a million tires had been abandoned in violation of state law. To deal with the worst polluters, we should give new tools and staff to TCEQ to enforce existing laws. This could be especially useful as the EPA steps back from enforcing federal environmental protections.
Texas should also invest in green energy and recycling technologies. We’ve seen an explosion of wind and solar in Texas due to past investments we’ve made in R&D and improving the energy grid. If we continue to make these sorts of investments, we could see 20-30% of the grid in Texas drawn from fully renewable sources in the near future.
Every year, Texas leaves billions of free federal dollars on the table because we refuse to expand Medicaid to provide insurance to thousands of low income Texans. Across the country, Medicaid expansion has been highly effective in increasing access to healthcare. I believe Texas should follow states like Louisiana and Arkansas and find a bipartisan compromise that would allow us to use all available federal dollars to provide healthcare.
Even after Medicaid expansion, Texas will still have a large uninsured population. On this, we can only hope that Congress doesn’t chip away at Obamacare any further and future Congresses work towards a more sustainable national healthcare system.
Texas needs better infrastructure. In San Antonio, population growth has drastically outpaced infrastructure expansion, worsening our city’s traffic problem. Traffic isn’t just the worst part of your morning commute, but a leach on society, robbing us of time spent being productive in our jobs or being home with our family. Increasing mobility will give people more flexibility both in the labor market and in their day-to-day lives.
One of my primary legislative concerns is the chronic issue of sexual assault on college campuses, and I’ve authored legislation to improve procedures and reporting requirements on that issue. We also must be mindful of the epidemic of sexual assault in places with less visibility, among people with less political power, such as immigrant communities, service workers, and night-shift workers.
With regards to harassment, we need to make sure that men and women know what sort of behavior is not acceptable at work or school. More widespread and higher-quality workplace training is one small step we can take. However, long-term progress will require national cultural change. Right, the #MeToo movement is helping us work out many of our society’s issues with sexual harassment and assault. This cultural moment should help us set new norms that make workplaces safer and more hospitable for all women.