State Senator Sylvia Garcia represents District 6, which includes the Houston area. Like many of her fellow Democrats, she says one of the most important issues facing Texas is income inequality. Garcia says she thinks a bill to raise the minimum wage will be introduced this session, and she would support it.
“When you’ve got so many people that are earning money on minimum wage that still can meet the poverty guidelines of this country, that’s a shame,” she said.
Republican Paul Bettencourt is the state Senator-Elect representing District 7. He disagrees with Garcia on the minimum wage increase.
Bettencourt says Texas is at the forefront of creating well-paying jobs in industries like construction and oil and gas.
“We’re in an unbelievable expansion, and the concept that the free market doesn’t work and we need to artificially boost salaries, I don’t see where that comes from,” Bettencourt said.
There’s one issue the senators seem to agree on across party lines — providing Texans with property tax relief. Garcia says Texas needs to equalize tax rates between homeowners and commercial property owners. Bettencourt says the current tax policy adds to the state budget, but it does little to benefit citizens.
“The state has an interest in property taxes because as everybody pays more, they pay less,” he said. “They keep the money in the budget, so I think we need to get that money back to the taxpayer.”
The senators appeared on TV 8’s program Red, White and Blue which airs November 21. The 140-day legislative session begins January 13.