America is a nation of laws, and the rule of law is the hallmark of our society. Everything stems from that. Illegal immigration chips away at the rule of law. It costs our state billions in education spending, health care and criminal justice. This is not an issue of pitting one ethnicity against another. In fact the illegal immigrants crossing into Texas come from all over the world, not exclusively from Latin America.
Immigration is a federal problem, and a true solution must come from Washington. But, Washington DC’s failure to secure the border is a problem that directly impacts us in Texas.
As a member of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee I am keenly aware of the criminal threat that operates on both sides of our border. While DC delays effective policies Texas allocated over $800 million for border security operations. Our Texas Rangers and National Guard are doing important work on the border and I support their efforts.
Government should do a few things and do them right. On the state level, no other issue epitomizes this rule more than education. Texas has some of the best schools in the nation, and some of the worst. I am confident that how much money we spend isn’t the only variable in the equation. If it were, Washington, D.C. would outperform the country.
Fixing our schools isn’t simply a matter of throwing more dollars at them, but making sure the investments we make are seeing a proper rate of return. Just as you want to know how your 401K is performing before putting more money into it, Texas needs to know that the money we spend is going in the right place.
For too long schools in Texas were spending too much time on standardized end of course tests. Testing is important for accountability, but Texas went too far in one direction. I listened to parents, teachers and administrators and voted to reduce the number of end of course tests on our students. As a co-author of House Bill 5 were reduced high school end of course exams from 15 down to 5 and reduced grade school testing from 17 down to 8.
Our schools have far too many administrators and not enough teachers. Sometimes, this is due to federal mandates, but many Texas districts continue to devote resources away from their core mission. In the 83rd Legislative Session we increased education funding by 7.1% and my expectation is for that money to go to instruction, not to bloated bureaucracies. In the 84th Session we kept education the number one state priority and allocated over $77B to educate our youth.
I will continue look for solutions in our best schools and then challenge others to learn from them. I support empowering results, not subsidizing the status quo. I support policies that move education forward not by raising taxes, but by keeping the tax rate low and the economy growing.
Taxes and the economy
I’m proud to have voted for a balanced budget that focuses on the core functions of government and lowered taxes on Texas businesses. Washington DC could learn a lot from Texas.
The economic success of Texas is not an accident. Led by motivated entrepreneurs and innovative employers Texas leads the nation in job creation. That is why I am committed to maintain a business climate where taxes are low, regulations are reasonable and predictable and where our civil justice system allows for proper redress in the courts, but does not reward jackpot justice.
I know government does not create jobs, and I am committed to helping foster an environment where the businesses where we work can thrive so we can support of families. Williamson County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the Lone Star State, and it didn’t happen by chance. The conservative, free-market solutions, which have made our home so successful, are models for Texas and the nation. I have seen them at work first hand, and I take them with me to Austin.
I want to keep Williamson County great, and that means developing the infrastructure we need to support our rapidly expanding community.
We must keep infrastructure dollars targeted at road and bridges and reduce bureaucratic roadblocks to building roads. There’s a reason that “shovel ready” jobs never really get done as fast as advertised. Common sense environmental and safety regulations are needed, but today’s red tape has exploded far beyond what is needed or healthy. For Texas highways to get moving, we need to move dirt faster than paper.
We also need to fix our transportation funding, and that starts with ending the diversion on money intended for roads. The gas tax should go to fund roads and nothing else. Toll roads should be a last resort. I’m proud of my record in focusing state transportation dollars on non-tolled roads and ensuring TXDOT will receive over $23B in the next two fiscal years.
When TXDOT overcharged toll road customers I led the charge to challenge their business practices. I fought for toll road users, called for committee hearings and led the effort that resulted on over $1.5M in refunds to toll road customers.
The values, which my family instilled in me, shape me to this day. That’s why I support pro-family values. Our teachers should not be afraid or prohibited from saying Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah in our schools. So I co-authored HB 308 to allow schools to participate in traditional holiday celebrations without the fear of a lawsuit.
I believe in being smart on crime. Williamson County has a strong anti-crime reputation, and I have fought to keep it that way, working with local prosecutors and judges on a number of issues both locally and statewide. But we must also uphold the law and protect the innocent from wrongful prosecution. That is why I’m proud to have helped pass the Michael Morton Act.
I believe in the right to bear arms and the responsibilities that go with that right. The Second Amendment isn’t just an archaic document. It is the guarantor of all of our other freedoms.
I believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. All children, even the unborn, should have a chance at life.