Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White said Wednesday he wants to increase public education spending by $6.5 billion and would pay for it by expanding gambling in Texas, ending a property appraisal law and redirecting the state’s share of border security funding.
White, an investor in Houston and son of the late Gov. Mark White, is running against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez in the May 22 runoff. The winner will face Gov. Greg Abbott in the November general election.
Under White’s plan, the state would use for education the $800 million currently allocated for border security in the two-year budget.
“Border security is a federal requirement,” White said. “Education is a state requirement. Texans know that if you can’t take care of your own business, you shouldn’t jump into someone else’s.”
White’s plan also requires ending the “equal and uniform” law that allows commercial property owners to challenge appraisals with proof that comparable properties were valued for less. White, and other Democrats, have said commercial property owners use the law to escape higher taxes. Achieving that part of White’s plan would generate $5 billion a year, he said.
In the final part of his education spending plan, White said he wants to expand gambling at horse and dog tracks, and some resorts, which would generate $3 billion in revenue for the state.
“Texans are driving hours out of state to gamble in Louisiana and invest in Louisiana schools, and Oklahoma’s health care and New Mexico’s highways,” he said.
White’s plan includes:
- A $5,000 pay raise for all teachers.
- Higher contributions to teachers’ health insurance.
- Cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.
- End of the windfall elimination provision.
- Removal of a cap on special education enrollment.
- Creation of full-day prekindergarten.
- Creation of more vocational opportunities for students.
$5,000 scholarship for public high school graduates with at least a 3.0 grade point average to attend any Texas college or university.
$5,000 bonus for new teachers that could be used for student debt.
The problems with the public education system are an emergency and warrant immediate attention, White said.
“We must call a special session to fix our schools,” he said. “We can’t wait until 2019.”
White’s education plan would create about $9 billion each year. About $2.5 billion of that would be used to lower property tax burden on counties, White said.
Valdez hasn’t presented a detailed education plan but has said she supports increasing state spending on public education.
“Since day one of this campaign, I have been calling for truly investing in our schools, for fixing our school finance system to ensure the state pays their fair share, for increasing teacher pay to pay them like the professionals they are, for providing high quality pre-k to every child in Texas and more,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s time for a governor who will put our students, teachers, and families first. That is what I intend to do.”