Progressive Leadership Ready to Serve Texas
My name is Gwenn Burud, and I am ready to work for you.
Our state legislature is in need of new leadership that is ready to tackle the real issues facing our communities. For too long, leaders in Austin have focused on passing partisan agendas, rather than providing relief to working and middle-class Texans, or investing in our future. We need to prioritize public education and affordable healthcare, not bathrooms and re-election.
As an educator and mother, I understand the importance of a quality education. I also understand that the actions of our legislature have threatened the vitality of our public schools. This is the wrong path. If we want every child to have the opportunity to succeed, and for Texas to remain competitive in the modern economy, we must strengthen public education by ensuring teachers and administrators have the resources they need. Republican lawmakers have made a habit of borrowing from our future to fund their priorities today. We must keep our promise to Texans to use tax dollars for their intended purposes.
There is no simple or easy way to address every issue in our state. However, approaching these tasks with an open mind, a willingness to reach across the aisle, and a common respect for the facts, is the best way to start. Additionally, those in public office should always be accessible to their constituents, because your voice matters every day, not just election day.
Texans have seen their property taxes increase year after year due to the funding formulas used by our Republican legislature. Yet, despite paying more property taxes than almost every other State in the Union, Texas ranks only 37th in terms of education. We must demand a better return on our investment – school finance reform and a renewed commitment to public education must be critical focuses for the State Legislature next session.
- School Finance Reform: By reforming our school finance formula, we could reduce property taxes, and ensure every Texas child receive the tools they need to succeed. The diversion of public school dollars to the charter school system results in more money being spent per student in a charter school than in any public school.
- Restore Teacher Benefits: We must restore retirement benefits for our teachers. Not only are our teachers paid below average, but they also receive one of the worst retirement benefit packages in the nation. Our educators deserve a dignified retirement and competitive pay. They have worked for decades for our children and are now having the rug pulled out from under them.
- Eliminate High Stakes Testing: High Stakes Testing creates higher dropout rates and only rewards wealthy school districts. Our teachers want the freedom to teach again, and in order to make that happen, we must replace our current standardized testing system. I believe in holding our schools accountable, but I also believe that our teachers should have flexibility in the curriculum, and students should be free to learn without the constant anxiety from testing.
In addition to these proposals, I also support:
– Reducing class sizes
– Cost of living adjustments for our educators
– Increased mental health services in schools
– Expanding Pre-K
Healthcare is a Right, and Not a Privilege
Your socioeconomic status should not determine whether or not you receive the care you need. The costs of healthcare have continued to rise, while Texas remains the most uninsured State in the country. We must do better because lives are on the line.
- Expand Medicaid. I call on the Governor to expand Medicaid in our State so that low-income Texans have access to affordable care.
- Women’s Health. Women’s health clinics and organizations have been under attack in our State. I will fight to ensure all women have access to routine OB-GYN services, including before, during, and after a pregnancy.
- Affordability. For far too long, healthcare costs have burdened families and weighed down our economy. All Texans should have access to health insurance so that an unexpected illness does not lead to financial uncertainty. Additionally, having insurance means that Texans will have affordable access to the preventative care that could save their lives and lower costs in the long-run.
- Mental Health Care Services for Children. The lack of psychiatrists in the State of Texas has created a shortage of providers for mental health services for children in the State. The State should improve mental health reimbursement rates to increase the percentage of psychiatrists who will accept Medicaid patients, providing access to health care for those who cannot afford private payments.
A healthy economy is one that is not only sizeable but equitable as well. Our Texas economy is one of the largest in the world, yet as we have continued to grow, more and more wealth has gone to large corporations and their shareholders. Every day, hardworking Texans, such as our farmers, teachers, and small business owners, deserve their fair share too. We must focus on strengthening the middle class, not the pocketbooks of the already wealthy.
- Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in our State has not changed in almost a decade. Meanwhile, steady inflation has reduced the buying power of the dollar and increased the cost of living. The minimum wage should be increased to
account for inflation so that we can protect our most vulnerable workers.
- Tax Cuts: Trickle-down economics is not a responsible way to grow the economy. Instead, tax cuts should focus on helping small businesses and families who need them. More specifically, the burden of high property taxes is taking valuable financial capital away from businesses who would otherwise use that money to expand, or hire more workers. Spending and taxation can be powerful tools to grow an economy, but only if used responsibly and efficiently.
- Vocational Training: Having only a high school diploma is no longer enough to be competitive in the modern, global market. The State should supplement job training programs so that Texas workers can acquire the skills that employers are seeking in the 21st century.
- Infrastructure: As our cities continue to grow in size and population, we must ensure that our infrastructure is adapting to these changes. This includes expansive, reliable public transportation. Not only does it allow lower-income individuals to access more opportunities, but helps the environment by reducing emissions and our dependence on oil and gas.
- Student Loan Debt: The staggering amount of student loan debt in our country has placed an economic burden on working and middle-class families who cannot afford rising tuition costs out-of-pocket. Students with substantial student loan debt have a much harder time getting ahead financially once they graduate. We must make a commitment to increase the affordability of higher education, including alternative options such as community colleges and trade schools.
We must elect leaders who are ready to make economic commitments to all hardworking Texans – those that will help our middle class remain the backbone of our economy.
We must make criminal justice reform a priority for Texas. Our current policies on gun control, juvenile justice, marijuana prohibition, and private prisons have created a justice system that does not protect those who are at risk – victims of domestic violence, children who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and people of color. We cannot continue to allow tragedies to happen within Texas borders – from Sutherland Springs, to Santa Fe, to the border – we see injustice happening all around us, but legislators who refuse to do something about it.
- Gun Violence: We all know that increased gun violence is happening, yet there seems to be little action on the part of the Texas legislature to address it. Increased access to mental health services and common sense reforms are needed to help prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms and causing harm to our communities.
- Private Prisons: The use of private prisons automatically creates profit incentives in our criminal justice system. Not only is that fact immoral, but it also does nothing to make Texas safer. These corporations are not held to the same level of accountability, leading to shady practices, and worse outcomes for our state. Incarceration has two goals – protect society from dangerous individuals, and rehabilitate those who will re-enter society. It is not, nor should ever be, about making money.
- School to Prison Pipeline: We need to address the discipline techniques employed in our schools and ensure that they are proportional and being fairly applied to all students. Too often, children of color face harsher punishments than their white peers, especially those with learning or mental health disabilities. Furthermore, our children should have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes without missing significant amounts of education.
- Legalization of Marijuana: Medical and recreational cannabis have the potential to improve the lives of Texans in several ways. Those who suffer from mental health disorders, chronic pain, and other medical conditions could use its medicinal properties to find relief from symptoms. Additionally, recreational cannabis would bring in significant tax revenue, while at the same time reducing costs related to enforcing marijuana prohibition. It is time for Texas to join the majority of states who have recognized marijuana’s positive potential.
Energy is Both Our Future and the Solution to Our Environmental Crises
Texas must lead the world to the benefit of clean energy both to build the new economy and to commit ourselves to repair the damage of hydrocarbon fuel emissions.
- Position Texas as the forefront of modern energy solutions
- Support jobs in clean, renewable energy
- Promote Solar Incentives
- Develop Balanced Subsidies for Renewable Energy Producers
When I see what our children are inheriting from future generations environmental excesses it is clear we must find a better path forward. By making clean and renewable energy the cornerstone of our energy policies Texas will be known not just for their energy past but for a better way forward as energy leaders in wind and solar solutions.
This earth is the only one we get, and ignoring science won’t make the challenges it faces go away. We must seek ways to reverse the negative implications of climate change. Future generations are depending on us.