EDINBURG, Texas (KXAN) — The top two candidates for Texas governor volleyed in their first debate Friday evening over questions on a number of the most urgent points for the state, with Gov. Greg Abbott aiming to take care of his polling lead and challenger Beto O’Rourke striving to shake up the race.
In the course of the hour-long debate on the College of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus in Edinburg, the 2 males confronted one another for the primary time since O’Rourke interrupted Abbott’s Uvalde news conference in Could following the lethal mass capturing there. A fiery change just like that didn’t occur Friday, however their exchanges nonetheless led to some memorable moments which will influence the gubernatorial election.
No extra STAAR take a look at?
Each Abbott and O’Rourke acquired a query about how you can retain certified academics in Texas school rooms. Each candidates promised to lift their pay, which is probably going welcome information to educators statewide.
Nonetheless, the Democratic challenger went additional whereas discussing different training reforms he’d wish to enact if he unseats the incumbent in November. He mentioned, if elected, he would finish the STAAR take a look at. That’s the state’s testing program specializing in the core topics of studying, writing, arithmetic, science, and social research.
“I’m going to insure that you’ve extra helpful classroom time to attach with these children, so we’re going to cease the STAAR take a look at,” O’Rourke mentioned whereas addressing academics, “and will let you deal with drawing forth that lifelong love of studying from each baby earlier than you.”
The Texas Schooling Company paused college students from taking the STAAR take a look at in 2020 on the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Final yr college students needed to take the take a look at once more, however to not maintain faculties accountable. The tests happened as usual this year, they usually’ll be used as a part of the state’s college accountability system. Faculties that get a D or F can be as an alternative listed as a “no score.”
STAAR scores for grades three through eight showed gains across the board in math and studying from the 2020-21 college yr, TEA knowledge exhibits. The positive aspects in math, although, have nonetheless not reached pre-pandemic ranges. Scores additionally confirmed the development stretch amongst particular training college students, economically deprived college students and throughout mastery ranges in Texas, in keeping with TEA knowledge.
O’Rourke additionally prompt he’d wish to push for a price of residing adjustment for retired academics yearly. To boost instructor pay, he mentioned he needed to lift the state’s share of public college funding, which he argued would decrease the tax burden on property house owners.
‘I’ll by no means elevate property taxes’
Talking about property tax reduction plans Friday, Abbott claimed O’Rourke voted thrice whereas on the El Paso Metropolis Council to lift native tax charges and made a transparent assertion if voters grant him a 3rd time period as governor.
“I’ll by no means elevate property taxes,” Abbott mentioned.
“The state of Texas doesn’t levy property tax. That’s solely carried out on the native degree,” he added. “What the state of Texas has carried out — and we are going to proceed to do — is to drive down the power of the native governments from with the ability to elevate taxes.”
The governor shared one other element of his plan to chop property taxes in Texas, which polls have prompt is a prime concern for a lot of voters.
“Due to our robust financial system in Texas, we’ve got a funds surplus of $27 billion,” Abbott mentioned Friday. “I wish to use not less than half of that $27 billion to drive down property tax charges. It may be carried out in a long-term foundation if we use that to decrease the college property tax part.”
Throughout a later change, he additionally mentioned his aim is to eradicate the college property tax imposed in Texas.
For his half, O’Rourke laid out how he’d like to supply property tax reduction, which included increasing Medicaid and legalizing marijuana to create a brand new stream of income for the state.
“I’ll preserve your lights on. I’ll be sure that I preserve your children secure,” O’Rourke mentioned in his closing assertion. “We’ll scale back property taxes, and we’ll prioritize the lives of each single Texan on this state.”
The moderators peppered the candidates with numerous questions on accountability efforts following the capturing at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that killed 19 kids and two college students.
Whereas Abbott mentioned he would make college security an emergency merchandise for legislators to prioritize throughout the subsequent legislative session, he addressed his declare that regulation enforcement misled him with the preliminary info they shared in regards to the bloodbath, main him to make that assertion quickly after the capturing that “it may have been worse.”
“There must be accountability for regulation enforcement at each degree for not following the Columbine protocol,” he mentioned, declaring investigations are underway proper now for seven officers from the Texas Division of Public Security. Two officers, he mentioned, are at present suspended.
For the reason that Columbine college bloodbath in 1999, many police departments have educated officers to make it the primary precedence to go after an attacker.
Nonetheless, O’Rourke claimed, “There’s a full failure to carry folks accountable accountable. These households nonetheless wouldn’t have justice. As governor, I’ll make it my precedence.”
He additionally mentioned his criticisms of the governor’s response to the capturing means Abbott “has misplaced the suitable to serve this state in crucial place of public belief.”
O’Rourke appeared within the afternoon earlier than the controversy with a number of households of the Uvalde capturing victims, they usually referred to as for Texas leaders to lift the age to 21 for folks to purchase a weapon just like the AR-15. He mentioned on the debate he would help laws to do exactly that, whereas Abbott mentioned latest courtroom selections would make that coverage unconstitutional.
No debate viewers
Because the moderators moved from one matter to a different in fast tempo Friday, neither candidate acquired any quick suggestions for his or her responses from an viewers as a result of the controversy corridor was empty.
O’Rourke claimed in a tweet Friday afternoon that the empty seats are as a result of “Abbott refuses to face these he’s failed these final 8 years.” Nonetheless, each candidates and their campaigns agreed to the phrases of the controversy, which included a stipulation that no friends can be within the auditorium.
O’Rourke additionally talked about throughout the debate that the Uvalde victims’ families wanted to sit in the auditorium during the debate.
In the meantime, throughout the debate a group of voters gathered in Dallas to share their reactions in real time through the use of dial technology. Plenty of moments confirmed clear splits in opinion associated to each candidates.