Government

SMART GOVERNMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE

Texas Democrats believe in a fair and transparent government serving all people. Smart government means investing for our future, ensuring the health of our residents, and facilitating an economy that benefits all Texans. We support capital and government investment in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, utilities, internet services, water supply and flood control, schools, ports, parks, and public buildings. We must properly fund education and make it available to all. We also value the diversity of our communities and believe that the State of Texas should recognize the governing authority of those communities on issues where local authority best serves the health and safety of the community.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Promote fiscal responsibility while ensuring transparency and accountability;
  • Protect public pensions and restore actuarial soundness;
  • Fully fund transportation projects to alleviate congestion and improve the safety of our roadways; and
  • Ensure technology serves to empower our people and communities, protects the rights and freedoms of our society, and enhances equitable access to the benefits of technological progress.

Fiscal Responsibility

  • Use the Rainy Day Fund for its intended purpose, which is to ensure the continuation of appropriate services during economic downturns, as well as to recover from natural disasters;
  • End debt, diversions, and deception in the state budget process;
  • Appropriate assistance to Texans and Texas communities still attempting to recover from Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters, with management at the local level;
  • Establish grants for the task force that was created by Texas Department of Emergency Management relating to disaster issues that affect older adults and persons with disabilities;
  • Oppose regressive taxes as well as tax breaks to the 1% of our population at the expense of the other 99%;
  • Enact a constitutional amendment to prohibit sales tax on food and medicine, while opposing efforts to replace local property taxes with a tremendous increase in state sales taxes;
  • Enact a sales and use tax exemption for items used to assist persons with an intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disability;
  • Reform the business “margins tax” to provide fairness to all economic sectors, especially small businesses, while opposing eliminating it and shifting the burden further onto sales taxes and residential property taxes;
  • Eliminate tax loopholes and unproductive special breaks to simplify the tax system and provide revenue for essential services;
  • Prohibit “corporate welfare” incentives that pit states and communities against each other;
  • Reform the property tax appraisal system to benefit all homeowners fairly, prevent families from being taxed out of their homes, eliminate commercial property loopholes, and extend the benefits of property tax relief to renters;
  • Require proposed revenue policy to be clearly established in a transparent process and determined by open, public debate and votes cast by elected representatives;
  • Prioritize the use of local businesses and labor in local government projects to improve local economies;
  • Conduct regular audits of state contracts and impose and enforce fines and/or debarment for corporations and entities receiving contracts that fail to deliver on their contractual obligations;
  • Require government procurement contracts and taxpayer-funded incentives to businesses to target, when possible, historically underutilized small businesses and prohibit such awards to companies that export jobs or utilize tax loopholes to avoid state or federal taxes;
  • Require the Texas government to spend taxes and fees for the reason they were collected; and
  • Prevent the continued use of the Texas Enterprise Fund as a corporate slush fund that rewards businesses owned by political cronies and contributors.

Public Employees & Pensions

  • Protect the defined benefits pension systems that have been faithfully paid into by employees;
  • Fully fund our obligations and repair the pension systems without cutting benefit amounts;
  • Promote and secure the increase in pensions to reflect cost-of-living adjustments; and
  • Prevent the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service and fully fund its operations.

Transportation

  • Invest state dollars in mass transportation projects with public support and the potential for matching federal funds;
  • Enact an equitable way to adequately pay for road and highway infrastructure in Texas;
  • Support transportation projects to encourage building safe sidewalks, curb cutouts, and bicycle lanes;
  • Review creative and innovative programs like buses on shoulders of major highways, charging stations for electric vehicles, and dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles to encourage mobility;
  • Improve paratransit services to meet the needs of Texans with disabilities;
  • Prevent infrastructure built with public funds from being used as private entities;
  • Prohibit converting any public highways, freeways, or roads into a toll road, require any tolled lanes to be an addition with no fewer traffic lights or intersections than the free lanes, and provide the funding to convert all existing toll road infrastructure built on public roads to free and non-tolled use;
  • Review future transportation planning to reflect the likely increased use of telecommuting;
  • Demand transparency in how toll roads are financed and how funds are managed; and
  • Develop a state rail plan that does not harm the environment or infringe upon property rights.

Technology

  • End the warrantless digital surveillance of Americans as authorized by the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act;
  • Enshrine “Net Neutrality” as the law of the land, and require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to interpret internet service providers as subject to Title II Communications Service Common Carrier regulations;
  • Establish a universal “Right to Repair,” so that people are always able to repair or modify electronic devices that they own, without violating intellectual property laws;
  • Regulate facial recognition systems, including their use in public or private spaces;
  • End government requirements for “encryption backdoors,” as they create unnecessary security risks for widely adopted software and online services;
  • Encourage our government, whenever possible, to make use of open-source software, and provide any internally developed software, under an open-source license, for use by the public;
  • Promote the responsible regulation of emergent technologies to ensure they serve the needs of the people instead of benefiting the proprietors of a technology;
  • Protect our right to consent regarding the collection and sale of our personal data by websites, software applications, and network service providers;
  • Provide high-speed internet and cell phone service, along with Wi-Fi capabilities, and end the disparities in services for low-income and rural communities;
  • Require all state agencies and public universities to develop and implement telecommuting infrastructure and employment policies;
  • Improve telecommuting infrastructure and employment policies to allow for a more flexible work/life balance, ease the stress on roads, and to ensure the continuity of business and education during national disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Amend Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter B, by adding the requirement that all publicly available broadcasts of open governmental meetings, including Texas Legislative hearings, be captioned.