State Rep. District 26 Q&A

The last day for voter registration is Oct. 11.

The last day for voter registration is Oct. 11.

Rick Miller Rick Miller[/caption]

Rick Miller (Republican, incumbent)


Hometown: Sugar Land
512-463-0710 (Austin office)
512-463-0710 (district office)
www.voterickmiller.com



What would your top priority be, if elected?


I have several top priorities in the next session. These include fighting for foster children in the Texas Child Protective Services system; fighting for veterans and offering viable alternatives for healing and other veteran issues, including the Hazlewood exemption [which offers qualified veterans, spouses and dependent children up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public Texas colleges]; life and traditional American family values; a fiscally responsible appropriations biennial budget; tax relief for all Texans; eliminate the franchise tax; state sovereignty; and hike and bike trails for communities.



What about your experience qualifies you to hold office?


As the incumbent running for re-election, my legislative experience is significant and vast because of my prior work in the Legislature and being a member of the House Appropriations and Public Health Committees. I also chair the House Appropriations subcommittee on Articles I, IV and V of the biennial budget. I serve on the Republican Caucus Policy Committee. I am a 30-year veteran. As a business owner and entrepreneur, I understand the significance of a pro-business and free market that we have in Texas. I served as the Republican Party chairman of Fort Bend County.



What are your thoughts on the state’s education funding formula which, although ruled constitutional, is expected to be discussed in the next legislative session?


In my discussions with Fort Bend ISD and Lamar Consolidated ISD about the funding issue, I believe there are changes that need to be made in how the ISDs are funded. The formulas were put in place in 2006 with little changes made since. The formulas are not easily understood and are outdated, especially with regard to the issue of recapture. Another issue is that there are a number of unfunded mandates and newer priorities since the formulas were put in place. I fully support the speaker’s special committee to look at these issues, especially the issue of recapture.








L. Sarah DeMerchant L. Sarah DeMerchant[/caption]

L. Sarah DeMerchant, Democrat


Hometown: Sugar Land
832-819-4615
www.sarahdemerchant.com



What would your top priority be, if elected?


Property taxes [will be a priority]. I plan to place limits on [the] Fort Bend Central Appraisal District so residents find relief in the property appraisal process. [My] next priority is education. When I am in office, I will push to reinstate the $5.4 billion in cuts from 2011 and I will vote against Fresh Choice, which offers to pay families $7,800 per child via a debit card to homeschool their children. Then, I will focus on the Equal Pay for Equal Work initiative. I will propose legislation making it illegal for employers to ask previous salary history, which can help eliminate the wage gap much quicker.



What about your experience qualifies you to hold office?


For the past 20 years, I have worked in [information technology], getting my career on the fast track as a Consulting Manager and now as an adviser to the board of a billion dollar company due to being able to solve complex challenges on time and within budget. I will use these skills to hold the government accountable. For too long, we have continued to put the same people in office, and our problems continue to grow. I am in the trenches with my neighbors working for family work-life balance. I earned my bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Houston.



What are your thoughts on the state’s education funding formula which, although ruled constitutional, is expected to be discussed in the next legislative session?


The lawsuit filed by Fort Bend ISD was valid. Our tax dollars should fund the best education for our children. The courts ruled it is OK for the state to provide “minimal” funding for our children. I totally disagree. The formula needs to be changed immediately to at least 60 percent from the state and 40 percent from local property taxes. Then we need to put the teachers back in the driver’s seat. It is time to modernize the education system to produce students ready to complete on a global basis, with emphasis in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.