by Brian Mitchell and Vanessa Cortez, College Republicans at Texas State
Recently, State Representative Jason Isaac and Republicans in general came under fire in Texas State University’s newspaper, The University Star. The following is a means of setting the record straight.
Last November, Representative Jason Isaac won his first term in the Legislature, defeating an entrenched incumbent by nearly 8 percentage points. As then Representative-elect Jason Isaac prepared for his first legislative session, it was apparent that the issues facing our state necessitated the ability to make critical decisions.
It is easy for members of the out-of-power (for a reason!) party to sit on the sidelines and spew unproductive, vitriolic one-liners questioning Rep. Isaac’s legislative intentions regarding public education. What is not easy is having to make tough budgetary choices that affect all Texans in the face of a budget shortfall of $27 billion. Democrats would have you believe that spending every dime of the state’s Rainy Day Fund and raising taxes will take care of that pesky $27 billion shortfall. Reasonable adults know that that simply isn’t the case. Rep. Isaac did indeed vote in favor of releasing a portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund. However, releasing the entire Fund would have been irresponsible—it wouldn’t have come close to bridging the gap in the state’s budget, nor would it have left remaining funds for a rainy day in the future.
Yes, cuts were made to education funding in Hays County and Texas State University. These cuts were painful, but in the end, were limited as much as possible. Republicans value education. When the rest of the state budget shrank, the percentage of the budget allocated to education funding actually increased. Overall, the Legislature allocated $125 million more to public education than in the previous session.
On substantial legislative issues, Rep. Isaac cast his votes in accordance with promises made to his constituency. Rep. Isaac coauthored House Bill 15, the “sonogram” bill, which affords women the right to see a sonogram before undergoing an abortion procedure. To compare H.B. 15 to President Obama’s Democrat-championed federal health care “reform” law (read: Obamacare) is intellectually dishonest. H.B. 15 provides an opt-out clause for women who do not wish to see a sonogram prior to an abortion. The average American is unable to opt-out of the onerous rules and regulations imposed by Obamacare, which are placing the federal bureaucracy between patients and their doctors.
When it came time to pass the state’s budget, the Legislature faced a critical problem. Texans overwhelmingly rejected new taxes and fees, and the state Constitution requires a balanced budget. Responsible budget cuts needed to be made. When the dust settled, funding cuts to universities across the board was around 7 percent. Texas State fared comparatively well with cuts of 3.6 percent. In hard numbers, Texas State was budgeted $245.5 million, approximately $9 million less than the previous biennium.
Furthermore, claiming Rep. Isaac voted against House Bill 2434, which ostensibly claimed to close $23 billion in tax loopholes, is a flat-out, verifiably false misstatement of fact. H.B. 2434 never even had a committee hearing, much less a roll call vote by the full House. How could Rep. Isaac possibly have voted one way or another on a bill that never reached the House floor?
Rep. Isaac fought for Texas State students in the Legislature. He cast votes for beneficial higher education reforms in addition to authoring a bill to freeze tuition at their current rates for the next four years. Unfortunately, the tuition-freeze bill did not pass, but after all, the Legislature is not a one-man show. With that being said, Rep. Isaac did vote in favor of bills that did pass and are now law. These changes will improve student performance, enhance transparency, reform financial aid programs, and lower the cost of textbooks.
Over all, Rep. Isaac enjoyed a successful first session. We should be applauding him for his successes, rather than berating him for things outside of his control. Republicans, including State Representative Jason Isaac, place a great deal of importance in public education. With that being said, Republicans also understand the importance of planning for tomorrow. Republicans are proud to have balanced the budget without raising taxes because it is what they were elected to do. Republicans are also proud to responsibly support public and higher education, even when times are tough.