Democratic gubernatorial nominee and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth, said she wouldn’t raise taxes to fund programs such as education in a discussion hosted by the Texas Tribune on Thursday.
Davis said she is not worried about facing a Republican super majority if she is elected governor and she said she believes under her leadership, the legislature will become more nonpartisan.
“‘D’ is not a liability,” Davis said. “There are honorable people on both sides of the aisle who really do want to be part of constructive, solution-oriented, future-oriented thinking.”
According to Davis, Texas should make education its single most important priority. Davis said she wants to focus on public preschool education and said she proposes a sliding scale to determine how much parents should pay.
“There will be a tremendous cost to the state of doing nothing,” Davis said. “I don’t think I have all the answers, but I think I have some good ideas.”
Davis said the state already has adequate revenue to fund the programs she proposes. According to Davis, at the next legislative session, the state may have as much as a $5 billion surplus.
“A 21st century education — that needs to be priority number one [with the surplus],” Davis said.
Texas has the largest population of adults without a high school diploma, and by 2040, that percentage is expected to rise to 30 percent. Davis said a less educated population decreases spending power.
Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO union, said Davis’ voting record has demonstrated that she prioritizes education, health care and increasing minimum wage and job opportunities, especially for low-income residents.
“When you tout your state as a low-wage state, you don’t get good jobs in the state,” Moeller said. “When you are excited about minimum wage jobs, and Gov. Rick Perry was, there’s something wrong with that. We need jobs that pay a living wage in this state.”
Moeller said she supports the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid.
“I think that it’s very clear that [Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg] Abbott … does not care about health care for all Texans,” Moeller said.
According to Moeller, an educated population is essential to a strong economy.
“We do need to have an educated workforce, [so] you need to have access to higher education,” Moeller said. “Tuition costs have gone through the roof … we need to make education affordable again.”
Rachel Gandy, public affairs and social work graduate student, asked Davis if she plans to invest in educational programs that would function as effective and cost-efficient alternatives to incarceration.
“I’m a huge supporter of Wendy Davis and especially her education plan,” Gandy said. “She spoke so eloquently about breaking from the status quo, and I wanted to see if that only applied to particular issues or to criminal justice as well.”
Gandy said the only thing she didn’t agree with was Davis’ response to a question about whether she had experienced sexism in Texas. Davis said she had not.
“I was irked … she responded very quickly [that she hadn’t],” Gandy said. “We don’t treat everyone equally in that way, so that was the only moment that I could really disagree with her — that we really haven’t found equality in that way.”