Public education, affordable college, and skills training are critical to empowering our young people to achieve and succeed. It is the responsibility of the State to partner with our local communities to make sure that education is a top priority. Attempting to shore up education through band-aid type measures cannot last. Students and teachers require permanent solutions to the facility and funding deficits that cripple our teachers and local schools. This includes fully-funded Pre-K programs and increased teacher pay.
Recent efforts by the Texas House and some municipalities to reduce first time low-level drug offenses to civil penalties are a step in the right direction. However, there is more work to be done in reforming our criminal justice system. We must break our reliance on unchecked and unregulated for-profit prisons and invest in early education, secondary education, work skills training programs, and mental health treatment to help break the cycle of incarceration of first-time and non-violent repeat offenders.
Healthcare is a basic human right, not a privilege afforded only to those who can afford it. Texas is home to one of the highest rates of maternal mortality, especially among women of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. An estimated 4.3 million Texans are living without health insurance, in part due to the legislature's failure to expand Medicaid. We owe it to our citizens to improve their healthcare options, including access to mental health care and drug rehabilitation programs.
As a community and a state, we need to focus on bringing more economic development to House District 96 and the greater Fort Worth area. We need to invest in the people of our community through programs designed to educate, motivate, and provide the skills necessary for everyday people to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Workers should be free from discrimination and be able to earn a livable wage without having to work multiple jobs at a time. A stronger workforce keeps the community involved and promotes an environment conducive to getting things done for the good of everyone.
District 96 has been ignored when it comes to infrastructure and transportation needs. Public transportation, drive-able and direct routes have become critical to a residents’ ability to get to and from their jobs and enjoy the diverse culture and activities that our area has to offer. Too many of our bridges and roads are in vital need of repair. Highway improvement has not kept pace with our immense population boom, leading to heavy congestion. A world-class transportation system with integrated bus and rail routes is vital to our continued economic growth and for the expansion of job opportunities in the region.
Texans pay some of the highest property taxes in the country. Despite repeated assurances to the contrary from some elected officials in Austin, average hard-working families are being priced out of their homes by ever increasing property taxes. Home ownership is a hallmark of a healthy and thriving local economy. The regressive nature of the state sales tax coupled with the limitation of the federal property tax deduction creates an uneven playing field for hard-working Texas families. By increasing the current homestead exemption we will save Texas families hundreds of dollars in property taxes each year.
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