As the Texas economy marches forward, many homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their homes in the face of rapidly increasing property taxes - a concept that goes against the very notion of property rights. From 1996 to 2016, our property tax grew by 233%, far ahead of personal income growth. Additionally, property taxes cost every man, woman and child in Texas $2,000 per year! Our current tax system collects almost twice as more tax revenue than it did in 2004. Even factoring in the growth rate and inflation, taxpayers still cannot afford these tax burdens which are hurting our economic growth and job creation. Texas must remain a state that limits the rate that tax increases may be applied, bans all forms of income tax and find innovative solutions to address the needs of our school districts without crippling our homeowners.
Healthcare is consistently the top budget item in the state. As Texans spend more and more each year, the beneficiaries are actually getting less and less. Despite this, there is a push to expand Medicaid and spend more money. The unpleasant reality is that the Medicaid program benefits middlemen more than it benefits Texans. We need to fix the foundation we have and focus on healthcare, not health insurance. The clearest issue is that the financing of Texas Medicaid is based on the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage Program. It provides federal dollars in proportion to how much a STATE SPENDS. This is a morale hazard for a state to sign up more people and spend more, in order to get more federal tax dollars. With more federal tax dollars, we observe more waste such as of the $30 billion expended by Texas Medicaid in 2018, $12 billion was wasted on federal administration and regulatory compliance: that’s 40% waste! Expanding a government program that is delivering less and costing more is not a solution, it’s making the problem worse.
The margins tax is inherently complex with multiple calculations to determine the lowest tax liability, two tax rates depending on business type, and the $1 million gross revenue exemption. Complying with it is also markedly different from complying with the federal corporate income tax; as a consequence many firms must keep separate financial books. Because of these substantial costs, firms can spend more on compliance than their actual tax liability. We should work towards eliminating the business margins tax. Potential budget surpluses, more tax revenue from new economic growth, and spending restraint should fund our budget without imposing a new tax. If we can achieve this, the estimated results of a full elimination of the margins tax within the first five years would create more prosperity as Texans could gain $16 billion in new inflation-adjusted total personal income and more jobs as new private sector non-farm employment in Texas could increase by almost 130,000 new jobs.
The statistics of human trafficking occurrences in Texas are staggering and we must act in order to protect all those who have been victimized by this growing criminal enterprise. Our state is estimated to be 2nd in the nation for the most amount of trafficking victims with more than 300,000 in the state, and 79,000 of these victims are child sex-trafficking victims. Our focus must be on educating our community on the prevention methods, imposing stricter prosecution for sex buyers, and eliminating the senseless prosecution of non-violent minors who have been trafficked.
Texas is truly unique among the United States: we have the largest international border in the union and an incredible symbiotic relationship with Mexico that has catapulted us onto the world stage. This is made possible by the long standing trade relationships we have with Mexico and the advantage of having migrant agricultural workers come and go as needed. We must act in unison by securing our border to curtail human trafficking and illegal immigration, while expediting guest worker visa programs to encourage all applicants seeking to gain legal entry to the United States, a fair and efficient opportunity.
Texans are in desperate need of relief from outdated laws that have unjustly and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable members of our community. Currently, Texas has over 1,700 criminal offenses, many of which do not require the actor to even know he or she has committed an offense. Texans can even be arrested for any crime, such as a traffic offense. Luis supports the Clean Slate Act for non-violent drug offenders, ending dangerous no-knock raids, supporting the formerly incarcerated, ending the unnecessary arrest of non-jailable offenses, and placing a moratorium on the death penalty until cases can be more carefully reviewed by the Innocence Project or similar groups.
The Texas Constitution states that we must make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public schools. While we must hold school districts responsible for improving students' results, we must also pledge an equal determination to support and empower our Texas educators
As of August 2017, Teachers Retirement System, (TRS) was funded at 76.1%. Some consider a funded ratio of 80% as healthy, but anything below 100% isn’t fully funded. At that time, the unfunded obligation was $35.4 billion at 8%. The fund had under-performed for years, thus the TRS Board lowered the assumed rate to 7.25%, BUT lowering the assumed rate of return increased TRS’s unfunded obligation to $46.2 billion and lengthened the amount of time this plan would need to become funded. To add further concern, the average annual return has been only 5.8% in the last decade, a more realistic rate of 6% would put the unfunded obligation at a staggering $85 billion. The Senate’s supplemental bill, increased TRS funding from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) by $300 million BUT raising all employees’ pay could place a larger burden on the pension plan, because defined benefits are tied to employee salaries. We must support a fair teacher retirement plan by innovating strategies to fully fund TRS.
When Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc across our city in 2017, many pets were cruelly left behind to suffer a terrible fate as some owners were forced to abandon them. As responsible stewards of this land and all it's blessings, it is time that we recognize that the humane treatment of animals needs to be the law of the land. We must face the most egregious problems needing legislative resolution and facilitate the passage of animal protection measures that makes a difference in our community.
Our district has a long history of advocating for accessing healthcare issues. Currently, many inner city residents do not have access getting health care due to the shortage of providers accepting Medicaid. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) could fill this void, but we must eliminate Prescriptive Authority Agreements and allow APRNs to practice independently. Doing so would allow more patients access to care they might not otherwise have. Additionally, we must ensure the right to make healthcare treatment decisions be preserved for the individual and their minor children. Patients, while considering their healthcare providers recommendations and options, should be allowed to treat their health conditions as they see fit.