Statehouse candidates discuss education, income tax

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Oct. 22, 2012 at 5:22 a.m.

The two candidates for state representative for District 30 disagreed on virtual schools, but agreed they did not support a state income tax on Monday.

Incumbent Geanie Morrison and challenger Alex Hernandez Jr. were among local, state and federal candidates who took part in the League of Women Voters' candidate's forum at the Leo J. Welder Center.

Hernandez, a Democrat, and Morrison, a Republican, answered questions from audience members at the forum about issues spanning from education to a state income tax.

The candidates were given two minutes to introduce their platform before addressing key issues from future constituents.

League president and moderator Kathy Hunt said she received many questions from the audience about education.

When the candidates were asked whether they would support drawing funds from the state's almost $9 billion Rainy Day Fund to spend on education shortfalls, Hernandez said he would be open to that as a possibility.

"When is it going to be used? It's a rainy day fund. We need to use it. We can't cut budgets anymore. We're devastating public education," he said.

Morrison however, said while she supports education funding, she emphasized the importance of balancing the budget and not spending money the state doesn't have.

"I will not pledge to spend from the rainy day fund until we get into the budgeting process and see what our revenues are," she said, mentioning the $4.5 billion that's tentatively earmarked for the Medicaid shortfalls.

Morrison and Hernandez also disagreed about the implementation of virtual schools. Morrison said the pilot programs of virtual schools may help rural areas that do not have enough teachers who are qualified to teach a variety of subjects.

Hernandez, however, did not support the virtual schools.

"Virtual schools are bad ... there's no control, they don't have the same accountability," he said.

The candidates also disagreed about tort reform in Texas.

Morrison responded that tort reform was working in the state and has improved medical conditions for doctors.

Hernandez said the tort reform that passed in 2003 has not been effective, and has not assisted to bring down health insurance rates.

Morrison and Hernandez agreed on several issues. Both said they would fight to support the funding of community colleges, which Morrison referred to as the "backbone" of the state.

They also said they both support open carry firearms laws in Texas, and would not support a state income tax.

Hernandez and Morrison also agreed that education and education funding would be a top priority of their civic service if elected in November.



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