In the Third installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Mike Collier candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor.
Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.
TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
MC: Mike Collier
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
MC: We simply cannot do for ourselves in all things. We must band together as a community and help one another. And government is precisely that. Moreover, government is an expression of the values we cherish. The quality of our life is profoundly influenced by the values our leaders display in their work in government.
TL: If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.
MC: We are in the grip of a fiscal crisis in Texas, which means we are struggling to invest in the things that matter to us like public education, healthcare, transportation, Child Protective Services, mental health services, and on and on. Of course, we CAN invest in these things; our fiscal crisis is the result of Republican fiscal orthodoxy that says, “I’ve got what I want. Good luck getting what you want.” We can resolve this crisis specifically by turning our relationship with big corporations into a partnership wherein they help us invest in the things that matter to us. The Republican idea that we need to enrich corporate shareholders while our services and infrastructure collapse, and while our values of compassion and empathy are thrown out the window, is what I am campaigning against. In my first legislative session as Lt Governor, I intend to close the big corporate property tax loophole that robs our state of $5 billion per year (based on the last estimate, from 2006, adjusted for inflation) and use that money to increase our investment in public education. There is more work to do in reforming tax policy and investing in our state, but this is my first-session objective.
2. We also need to eliminate corruption, and in the first session I will propose the creation of The Texas Audit, Performance and Integrity Commission (“APIC”) which will have a highly innovative structure that will completely eliminate political influence. Every politician and trough-feeder will fear APIC. Every Texan will love it!
3. We also need to kill gerrymandering for good before gerrymandering kills our democracy. We can do this by adoption a Redistricting Commission, similarly designed to be completely free of all political influence, which I will introduce in my first session as Lt Governor.
TL: In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.
MC: As discussed above, we need to change our relationship with big corporations in Texas and bring them back into partnership with us to invest in infrastructure. We MUST invest infrastructure, and we MUST NOT land every penny of this on the backs of homeowners and renters. Republican fiscal policy has been shifting the burden of investing in infrastructure, including education, away from the big corporations and onto the backs of homeowners and it has led to property taxes that are way too high and services and investment that are not keeping up. Reversing these unwise fiscal policies will produce the revenues we need to invest in infrastructure without raising taxes on ordinary people.
TL: Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis. According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey. Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens. As a Lieutenant Governor, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?
MC: Rural healthcare is indeed a crisis in Texas and I hear it everywhere I go. We should expand Medicaid and reform it so that it marries well with the requirements of healthcare providers including rural healthcare providers. And we should support and improve ACA, not destroy it. In the end, we must treat healthcare as a basic human right, including for those living in rural Texas, and we need to be prepared to invest. We should attempt to do this by working in concert with federal policy. If we lose confidence that this is possible, Texas is large enough, smart enough, and prosperous enough to design and implement our own healthcare system, one that gives rural Texans confidence that they too will have access to high quality healthcare.
TL: In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act. This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality. Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.
MC: I think we should adopt a pure common carrier system, which would be even better than net neutrality as it has been recently debated. Every Texan should be able to access any ISP and switch as often as they like. The physical infrastructure that makes this possible should be completely separated from ISPs and work on a simple fee structure. And while we are at it we should invest in high speed internet in rural Texas.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
MC: Many of the issues we face in Texas require investment. So the Lt Governor has to find the money, without raising taxes on the people who live and work here and without drowning our state in debt. I make my living diagnosing complex financial situations and recommending solutions. I have a very clear idea as to how to raise the money without raising taxes on people, without increasing debt, and without choking our job-creation machine. In short, we need to reverse the decades-long trend of shifting the tax burden away from big corporations and onto the backs of homeowners and small businesses. We can do this by closing the technical loopholes in the Equal and Uniform (property tax) law, and we need to reengineer the 2006 tax swap and this time do it right. We can live in a state that is great for creating jobs, and that is also compassionate and welcoming. But it will take considerable financial and commercial expertise to do it, and I bring both to this endeavor.
Thanks to Mr. Collier for the responses.
Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th. Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, Galveston County. For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.
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