EXPANDING ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
In light of her parents’ battles with cancer, Amanda knows firsthand that access to healthcare is an issue of life and death for many Americans. One in six Texans — 5 million people — lacks health care coverage, including nearly a million children. That is the largest number of uninsured people within any single state in the United States. Many more have inadequate coverage and are one illness away from financial instability or worse.
Amanda supports building on the successes of the Affordable Care Act, protecting health care for folks with pre-existing conditions, and working to get more Americans affordably covered as quickly as possible, all while preserving health care choices. Amanda wants to ensure that a public option is available for Texans who cannot currently obtain coverage. She also believes the Texas Legislature’s refusal to expand the Medicaid program is a mistake, given that doing so would immediately cover about one million uninsured Texans.
Even for those with health care coverage, rapidly escalating premiums and prescription drug costs are simply unsustainable for working families. Amanda supports controlling premium increases and lowering the cost of prescription drugs by giving the federal government power to negotiate prices, limiting cost increases and allowing more generic drugs on the market.
In recent years, the largest mental health providers in Texas have been its jails. One quarter of inmates in the Harris County Jail – the state’s largest – suffer from mental illness. Amanda supports expanding mental health services as part of health care coverage and increasing federal funding of mental health services at the local level. Such measures will uplift both individuals and communities.
ECONOMY & JOBS
CHAMPIONING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL TEXANS
While Texas enjoys a strong economy overall, nearly one quarter of Texans now live in an economically distressed zip code. Nationally, research shows growing anxiety, particularly in modest income and rural communities, about the future of the economy and potential job loss. 55 percent of respondents in one survey viewed increased automation of jobs as a negative development, compared to just 39 percent who said it was positive. To address the anxiety regarding the future of work and the economy, Amanda has an inclusive vision that incorporates all Texans into today’s and tomorrow’s economy.
As a local official, Amanda has worked to lay the groundwork for an economy that works for all Houstonians. Her efforts include the creation of Houston’s Innovation District, prioritizing high-capacity public transit and increasing small business lending to women, veterans and minorities, all while planning for the effects of automation on the changing future of work. Amanda will bring her same focus to all of Texas to ensure economic development efforts leave no Texas community — urban, rural or suburban — behind.
It has been more than a dozen years since the federal minimum wage was raised, which at $7.25 per hour is only about half of a living wage for a family of four in Texas today. Amanda believes that sustainable wage jobs for working families are critical, and that it is long past time to raise the minimum wage. Amanda also believes that life-long training opportunities for workers should be available and portable, so that Texans can adjust to changes in the economy and keep their job skills up to date.
While Texas has been a national economic engine over the last decade, nearly all our job and business growth has been in the state’s four largest metropolitan areas. For communities outside the big cities, these are challenging times. Jobs are scarce, young people move away, threatening the vitality of many of our rural communities. More than 20 rural hospitals in Texas have closed just in the last six years, further exacerbating the challenges.
Amanda aims to ensure that all Texans are included in today’s and tomorrow’s economy. Today, nearly two million Texans lack access to broadband internet infrastructure, leaving them disconnected from virtual education and job opportunities. Amanda will push for federal measures to build an inclusive broadband network to connect Texans to opportunity no matter where they live. Amanda also aims to provide businesses incentives to locate sustainable wage back office activity and other virtual job activity into rural markets that have experienced substantial job loss.
INCREASING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HIGHER EDUCATION
In today’s economy, higher education is more important than ever, but exploding costs are putting it out of reach for too many families. Student loan debt, now more than $1.5 trillion, has skyrocketed and saddled young people with the equivalent of a home mortgage before they even begin their careers and can buy a home.
The federal government must take a leadership role in making higher education more accessible to the masses, by reducing the rate of increases that may be charged for tuition by both public and private institutions (that receive federal grant dollars). The federal government should use its leverage as a provider of grants to these institutions to rein in tuition increases.
Expanding Pell Grants for students, both in dollar amounts and by increasing the income threshold to qualify for them, and stopping the abusive financial practices of for-profit institutions are other ways in which the federal government can play a meaningful role in making college more affordable.
PUTTING PEOPLE OVER POLITICS
Amanda is committed to servant leadership that empowers residents to demand and obtain the results from government they deserve. Whether it is comprehensive immigration reform, sensible policies to reduce gun violence, criminal justice reform or addressing the growing concerns surrounding the environment, her approach is centered around dignity and respect for all people and effecting positive change in their lives.
Amanda believes in providing the federal funding (including timely reimbursements from the Army Corps of Engineers) to local districts seeking to engage in flood mitigation and prevention projects. Billions of dollars are required in order to improve the infrastructure so that people are better positioned today than they were before previous major flooding events took place.
The atrocities at the border are inconsistent with our American values, but we cannot stop there with just an acknowledgment. We need to codify into law comprehensive immigration reform with a system that creates a balance with regard to our needs in the country, including appropriate wait times and a path to citizenship beyond DACA. Many immigrants (undocumented and otherwise) contribute to our society and also to our economy. Our enforcement mechanisms should not tear our families and communities apart, but should address human trafficking instead. We can keep our borders secure without expending extreme amounts of resources and without being inhumane.
Being from the Texas Gulf Coast, a region where we have had four 500 year flood events over the last five years, makes it clear that Climate Change is real. However, we must go beyond just acknowledging Climate Change; we have to have the bravery to address it by doing the following right now:
1. Re-engaging in the Paris Accords
2. Heightening emissions standards
3. Subsidizing and encourage the clean and renewal energy sources
4. Investing in infrastructure such as high capacity transit to reduce our emissions
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
As a former Criminal Justice student attorney, I know firsthand the hazards of mass incarceration in the United States. Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts people of color and that impedes the ability to reach our community potential by having strong, sustainable lives, families and communities. We need more emphasis on job training and services that would better position people for opportunities, rather than a strong emphasis on reinforcing punitive means to impede one’s ability to contribute to society. We should provide such wrap-around services in prisons and outside of them as well. Pre-trial diversion, rather than incarceration needs to be standardized for many more minor offenses. The federal government should lead the way in sentencing and criminal justice reform, as the current federal sentencing guidelines have led to even more incarcerations. Instead of focusing on how to remove one’s ability to contribute to society, we should focus on the rehabilitation needed to improve one’s ability to contribute. This includes efforts to do so inside and outside of the prison context. Additionally, I support correcting the state of the current cash bail system due to the inequitable impact that it has on minority communities and those that are poor. If the accused does not have the funds to be bailed out, they are more likely to enter pleas of guilty to get out of jail. This creates challenges relating to losing one’s job, losing their ability to support themselves and their families. Reform of this system is needed. We must also address the contributing factors leading to the school-to-prison pipeline for our youth.