District 45 state representative candidate Jason Isaac, left, and incumbent Patrick Rose, right.
By ANDY SEVILLA
Patrick Rose (D-San Marcos) first was elected to the state legislature in 2002, narrowly defeating incumbent Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs).
Now, Rose is running for his fifth term against Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs). Election Day is Tuesday.
Rose and Isaac were presented with the same questions by the San Marcos Local News (SMLN). The questions and answers are presented here, verbatim, edited only for punctuation and publication style. This is another installment in a series of interviews with all the candidates for city, county and statewide offices of local interest.
San Marcos Local News: How, specifically, should the state go about closing the budget shortfall (estimated between $11-21 billion)?
Patrick Rose: At the state level, the work to balance the budget has already begun with the House and Senate directing every state agency to identify 10 percent budget reductions for 2012 and 2013. A five percent cut has already been enacted for the current fiscal year. It will be my priority to that we find ways to balance the budget without raising taxes to protect and grow jobs in our region. Every agency must cut its expenditures and make its operations leaner and more efficient. In making budget cuts, I will support decisions that keep the cost of doing business low in our state, and continue to make critical investments in our public schools and universities, transportation and infrastructure, workforce development and technology and innovation, while preserving essential services for children, seniors and the disabled.
Jason Isaac: Closing the budget shortfall will be very difficult. We will have to make many tough decisions, and don’t have room in this questionnaire to detail the roadmap. But first and foremost, we must cut spending. Our state budget is extraordinarily bloated and we must first eliminate waste, beginning with a 5-10 percent across the board budget cuts among state agencies. Also, we might need to tap a portion of the rainy day fund to close the gap. But we must not raise taxes and I will vote against any budget proposal that includes tax increases.
SMLN: What action, if any, should the legislature take pertinent to electric cooperatives, specifically, Pedernales Electric Cooperative?
Isaac: I believe the Legislature needs to worry about the business of reducing the budget, reducing taxes, protecting our borders and improving education, among others, next session and let the newly member elected board of the PEC, of which I am a member, worry about their business. For the first time in PEC’s history we have a board completely elected by the members. Let’s give them a chance to enact their own reforms, which is already happening, before the state interferes in local affairs.
Rose: I am committed to ending the mismanagement and to ensuring transparency at the PEC. The board and management’s record has proven that PEC members need protections in law. It is vital that energy rates stay low and that co-op members share in the profits generated by the PEC.
My electric coop reform legislation will:
• Require all electric cooperatives in Texas to comply with Open Meetings and Open Records
• Require annual, independent financial audits
• Require co-op management to adopt and follow open governance policies for conflicts of interest, whistle blower protections, travel expenditures and reimbursements
• Establish a complaints process for co-op members that includes a right of appeal to the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
• Limit co-ops investments outside their core business of providing electricity
• Guarantee fair and democratic elections for boards of directors
The only way to guarantee real local control for PEC members and the three million Texans served by coops is to put basic protections into law.
SMLN: To what extent, if any, should the legislature expand the powers of county government? Is there a one-size fits all approach, or can specific authorities be granted to specific counties to address specific problems?
Rose: I believe that some Texas Hill Country counties need limited, targeted authority to protect property rights, manage limited groundwater resources and keep up with the cost of transportation infrastructure needed to support new growth. During this legislative interim, I am working with legislators and stakeholders in the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA), a designation given by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to an area experiencing or expected to experience, within 25 years, critical groundwater problems, to build consensus in the region for limited county authority that meets our communities’ needs. This stakeholder process includes realtors, builders, landowners and other business and community leaders. With their input and buy-in, limited county authority in the Hill Country PGMA, which is approved by local voter referendums in individual counties, will protect the value of both homes and land, create partnerships between local governments and private developments to invest in transportation infrastructure to serve new growth, and guarantee future water availability, critical for our region’s economy.
Isaac: The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution of the United States are reserved to the states or the people. This should apply relative to state and local government, as well. I believe that government closest to the people governs best and any time local government can assume responsibility for its own affairs, they should, provided it is not prohibited by the Texas Constitution. There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all solution, and any delegation of powers to the local level must not include unfunded mandates.
SMLN: What is your position on expanding authority and taxing and fee levying with respect to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD)? Can anything short of Chapter 36 Authority ensure that the resource will conserved in Western Hays County?
Isaac: We must ensure that our water is protected, but I am opposed to new taxes especially property taxes that penalize homeowners. I look forward to working with the HTGCD and our Soil and Water Conservation Districts to ensure that our water is protected and they have adequate funding necessary to operate.
Rose: We have just begun our economic recovery; I do not support any new taxes. Absolutely, there are many things that the district can do to conserve water that does not require additional Chapter 36 authority, like increasing our use of rainwater harvesting technologies, and I look forward to continuing my work with the board on those efforts.
SMLN: How does a state representative balance the interests of his direct constituency against the broader interests of the State of Texas?
Rose: I have a record of always putting this district first and ahead of any of political party or agenda — you can look at my record, from supporting tort reform to fighting insurance companies and from fighting water profiteers wanting to steal our water to never wavering on our Second Amendment rights, I have always acted in the best interest of the communities of Blanco, Caldwell and Hays Counties.
Isaac: A state representative is elected to serve the interests of the constituents of their district who elected them. Rarely are the interests of a single district so contrary to that of the rest of the state, but in the rare instance this situation occurs, a representative should vote his or her district first and foremost.
SMLN: What is the next development in public school finance in Texas? Is there any specific need that necessitates immediate attention?
Isaac: Yes, our teachers need a pay raise immediately. Our legislature, including Representative Rose, voted themselves an increase in their retirement in 2005, but have failed to raise teachers’ retirement since 1999. Regarding financing schools, ultimately we must get away from a property-tax funded education system. The system is broken, inequitable and unfair. We can do better.
Rose: Strong public schools are a key component of our economic recovery. Working with our local school districts, I was successful in passing the mid-size adjustment last session so that our mid-size, Chapter 41 (property rich) schools can keep more of their property tax dollars. We need to protect the mid-size adjustment, and fix Robin Hood so that all of our public schools can keep more of their tax dollars in their communities. To ensure the quality and financial stability of our public schools, I am also committed to lowering property tax appraisal caps for homeowners and strengthening accountability measures in the classroom.
SMLN: What can be accomplished at the legislature level to address the differences of opinion between the interests of Hays and Travis Counties with respect to expanding FM 1626 and building the southwest portion of SH 45?
Rose: I support the expansion of FM 1626 and recognize this as a critical step in building SH 45 SW – both critical infrastructure improvements for the residents of northern Hays County. Taking advantage of all opportunities to attract jobs to our region is crucial to our economic recovery, while addressing current deficiencies in mobility and connectivity. Schools, businesses and families rely daily on FM 1626, and our emergency services count on it as the alternate route to Interstate-35 for western Hays County. The expansion of FM 1626 will respond to these current needs and prepare us for the future. I have worked closely with our county commissioners to get the remaining necessary approvals from TxDOT and the federal government to begin construction on the long-awaited improvement to FM 1626, and share in the county’s frustration with the ongoing delays at the federal level. I also successfully worked to secure support for keeping SH 45 SW in the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) strategic plan after Travis County officials voted to remove it. We must continue to work together with our Travis County neighbors to build consensus around the need to both expand FM 1626 and construct SH 45 SW.
Isaac: First and foremost, the rights of property owners should be protected. Exercising eminent domain is inevitable when roads are being built, so property owners’ rights should be our primary concern. But our growing communities need good roads to continue to attract jobs to our area. As lawmakers, we should work with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), which was created for this very purpose: long-term transportation planning between local governments, and assist them as best we can.
SMLN: Why should voters elect you as opposed to your opponent?
Isaac: Patrick Rose and I have a fundamental difference of philosophy. He thinks government is always the first answer. I don’t. I believe more often than not, government has either created the problem or made the problem worse. Texas is the greatest state in the country and we are doing better than most states. But, we can do so much better, starting with major cuts in government spending and reducing the tax burden on small businesses and homeowners. I will take to Austin my business experience and a philosophy that smaller government, less spending and lower taxes will help small businesses create jobs and grow our economy.
Rose: I am the only candidate in this race with a record of cutting taxes and job creation. To keep our economic recovery moving, it is critical that we balance the budget without raising taxes — as I have a record of doing with every vote that I’ve taken on our state’s budget. In addition, I’ve proven to be a champion for our local economies — supporting Texas States’ efforts and supporting policies that have kept our region and our state ahead when compared to other states. Lastly, during these difficult economic times, we need leadership that is not beholden to political parties and that can build consensus to get things done. That is the reputation I have as your state representative and it would be an honor to continue to serve this district.Email | Print