A Healthier Texas Means A More Prosperous Texas!
All Texans must have access to affordable healthcare services. Yet, Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country and it ranks near the bottom of all states on numerous healthcare measurements and outcomes. A large reason so many Texans do not have health insurance and cannot access affordable care is because the Texas legislature has refused to accept federal money made available to it under the Affordable Care Act to expand coverage. The result is worse medical outcomes for those without insurance and higher healthcare costs for all Texans. When uninsured persons seek care at hospitals and are unable to pay for that care, hospitals and doctors have to charge everyone else more in order to recover those uncompensated costs. By accepting federal dollars and expanding care in Texas, all Texans would benefit from lower taxes, lower healthcare costs, and increased economic activity.
In addition to accepting federal dollars to expand care, there are other reforms Texas should undertake to improve the health of its people and lower costs. One step would be to create a re-insurance pool for high risk individuals as several other states have done. Texas should also undertake efforts to encourage people to sign up for healthcare coverage during open enrollment periods. Tom also supports expanding the use of telemedicine to make it easier for people to obtain the care they need from their doctor.
If elected, Tom will fight every day to improve healthcare in Texas.
Investing in the future of Texas means investing in our schools.
As a graduate of public schools and the son of a public-school teacher, Tom knows the difference that good teachers and good schools can make in the lives of our children. The residents of House District 67 are proud of their public schools and we recognize that they are the foundation of our communities and our society.
The Texas legislature, however, has all-too-often failed to provide the full support our schools desperately need. The state now funds a smaller portion of the cost of education than it did just a decade ago, and funding per student is lower than most other states. As a result, property taxes have increased to close the gap and our students’ scores have declined compared to students in other states. After years of neglect, the legislature recently provided additional funds for education, but the measure was not transformative. Plano ISD, for example, still faces a $16.2 million deficit and will send approximately $160 million back to the state in recapture payments. Texas will still lag most states in funding per student. Critically, the legislature failed to provide an ongoing revenue source that will ensure that this increased level of financial support can be sustained beyond the next two years.
We must provide our schools with the resources they need on an ongoing basis so they can provide the high-quality education we expect our children to receive.
If elected, Tom will fight to strengthen our schools, empower our teachers, and ensure our children are ready for the jobs of tomorrow.
Texas can lead the country and world in green energy practices and sustainability.
The science is undeniable. Global warming is real and with each passing year the threat to us all grows. Texas has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, which include wind and solar energy. Texas is already the leader in wind power. We can build upon this lead and further develop our solar energy sources. Similarly, we can invest in conservation efforts and green energy practices that reduce our carbon emissions across all segments of our economy. We can accomplish this through creative policies that incentivize sustainable practices such as making tax benefits available for energy efficiency improvements to residential and commercial properties.
Texas air is also not as clean as it should be. In 2017, 275 companies reported 4,067 breakdowns, maintenance incidents, and other emissions events that resulted in the release of more than 63 million pounds of illegal air pollution. These pollutants include known carcinogens, which can lead to premature death and cause approximately $150 million in healthcare expenses. The Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ), however, only pursues enforcement orders about three percent (3%) of the time against polluters. We need effective and better enforcement from the state agency charged with protecting our air, water, and soil against harmful contaminates.
As state representative, Tom will fight for common-sense and creative measures that will reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants, encourage sustainable practices, and help Texas lead the way in green jobs.
No Texan wants to be around someone who cannot responsibly handle their gun.
In Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe, El Paso, Plano (the 2017 football watch party attack), and many other communities across the state, we have lost Texans to unthinkable acts of gun violence. This is a public health crisis. While there are many factors that contribute to this violence, there are common-sense reforms supported by most Texans that our legislature should immediately enact that will help keep firearms out of the hands of those who cannot use them responsibly. These reforms include universal background checks, red flag laws, and safe storage requirements. Tom also believes that weapons of war, like high capacity assault weapons, do not belong on our neighborhood streets and do not make our communities safer.
As state representative, Tom will work every day to make our communities safer and stronger, including working to enact common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who cannot act responsibly.
Our criminal justice system should protect our communities while also treating those in the system justly.
Across Texas too many individuals charged with minor non-violent offenses sit in jail because they cannot pay bail. This is unjust as well as fiscally irresponsible. It also keeps these individuals from their jobs and families and can precipitate a downward cycle that harms our communities and traps individuals in the criminal justice system. Bail bond reform that focuses on risk-based assessments instead of the ability to pay should be passed. Further, programs that promote non-lethal police force training and conflict de-escalation should be expanded because they contribute to the safety of our police and communities.
As state representative, Tom will work to enact fair and common-sense laws that enable the rehabilitation of offenders and keep our communities strong.
When politicians gerrymander the districts, they pick their voters and the people lose.
After the census is completed and the 2020 election is over, Texas will redraw its political lines, including its congressional, state senate, state house, and state board of education districts. With complete control of the state government following the 2010 census, the GOP gerrymandered Texas’ political maps to ensure that the GOP had a firm grip on power in the state and that Texas sent a disproportionate number of Republicans to Congress. With the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruling that political gerrymandering cannot be prevented, it is critical that Democrats win the Texas State House so that we have a seat at the table during redistricting to block continued power grabs by the GOP, which leave average Texans with little say in their state and federal government.
As state representative, Tom will support the establishment of a non-partisan commission to redraw political lines in Texas to ensure that the voters pick their representatives and not the other way around.