Re: Texas House Committee holds hearing in Brownsville

The Texas Legislature’s Committee On Homeland Security and Public Safety came to Brownsville. Do not come back! Return to Austin and revoke the $800-plus million you have appropriated for so-called “border security.” What a waste!

Use the money to improve community work throughout the state with young men and women, many of of whom are inclined towards gang, drug and gun violence. And if money remains, use it to repair the horrible conditions in too many Texas State prisons. A show of shows the committee brought to Brownsville.

Streets blocked, city police, state troopers, and the committee members in expensive suits, plus local officials (same suits).

Dare the committee have the nerve to say, “Legalize marijuana!” That will do more to reduce illegal border activity than the black and white state trooper vehicles along U.S. 281 and U.S. 83.

Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky

Re: Sáenz: It is Time to End Lucrative Immigrant Detention Business

Mr. Sáenz, thank you for a most informative article. Although this subject doesn’t get much publicity it should! The idea was indeed concocted by greedy individuals who devised the system as a way to get rich off other people’s misery.

Without question, the detention (incarceration) of families is inhumane, flat wrong, and damages our reputation as a nation built by immigrants.

Closing these facilities is the right thing to do for the right reasons. Thanks, again.

José Antonio “Joe” López
San Antonio

Re: Mayor Garcia: We must not let UTRGV School of Medicine become Tortilla Tech

Are these politicians reaching out to you to promote their healthcare taxing district or are you reaching out to them to promote it for them? Do you ever fact check any of their claims or just print whatever nonsense they spew, i.e. claims they make?

It’s quite possible that the winds of change are blowing and so the “U” as in Understanding in the memorandum to which reference was made has changed. No elections were ever held by those cities whose mayors committed them to those financial obligations. I’m glad my city is no longer paying. I never approved in the first place.

The Edinburg Mayor is quoted as saying, “…we are entitled to, a fully funded medical school just like everybody else in the state of Texas?”  How or why are we “entitled” and what exactly is “fully funded”? Is he suggesting that with sixty million dollars funded in the current 2016-17 biennium and the backing of the 5th largest endowment in the country, the Texas Permanent University Fund, it is not fully funded or on solid footing? Is the mayor suggesting that the UT officials that made the decision to create a medical school, whose ‘need’ has never been quantified, are incompetent? A healthcare district is not required for the medical school to function. But it is a lot like asking for transportation and then when provided a Chevy or Ford asking instead for one with all power accessories or rather a Cadillac, Lincoln, or Lexus.

Garcia continues, “We want a great medical school for our children…”. Exactly how many hundreds of millions of dollars does he think is worth spending for the convenience of a few dozen of “our children”? Is he unaware that there are two medical schools within 5-6 hours of his city? Don’t either of those schools have empty chairs?

Mr. Garcia’s problem, and that of most every elected official and civic leader is that they are out of touch with the people they rule over. As a reminder, depending on source, the median and mean income in Hidalgo county and most of its principal cities is in the mid 30’s. In McAllen alone, fully 60 percent of households earn less than 50k. Roughly one third of county residents leave at or below the federal poverty rate. Of the nearly nine percent of unemployed very few if any will qualify for the very few high paying jobs that might be created. And the claims of the med school and/or healthcare/hospital taxing district being an economic engine are exaggerated and would not be supported by U.S. Census Bureau economic data. Bexar County with a hospital district actually has less healthcare industry revenue per capital than does Hidalgo County without one. Other data over multiple census also do not support these economic claims.

It is simply counter intuitive that one would seek to improve the lot in life of anyone, let alone the indigent, by increasing the weight of financial burden on them. I’m not sure whether you are carrying the water for proponents of this taxing district but please be reminded or advised, what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. You might want to ask for some.

Dave Asher
Mission, Texas

Re: Mayor Garcia: We must not let UTRGV School of Medicine become Tortilla Tech

After attending most of the Catholic Parish workshops on the Healthcare District, Prop 1; testifying and listening at the Legislative Committee hearings, talking to members of Commissioners Court, reading mayors columns, and listening to mayors; I have drawn some conclusions.

HB 1596 was written by a fifth grader trying to please his mentor that bought him his lunch in the school cafeteria. Most everyone has issues with the bill’s language, interpretation, intent, and what was not said or explained. The tortilla tech comment by a fellow American sealed the deal, it is garbage. If Trump or I had said that, La Raza would be picketing in the streets.

It is time to go back to the drawing board, not the lobbyist board, and write a simple bill that doesn’t add a large undefined and perhaps uncontrollable bureaucracy and new tax rate to one of the poorest counties in the state with one of the highest tax rates. Comments in the workshops that the poor will have to make hard choices to pay the increased tax are a cry for help. Unfortunately, not all the poor understand the balancing act. They think they have been promised a panacea. It is a typical progressive trick that we can tax ourselves to prosperity.

Jim Barnes
Mission, Texas

Re: Martinez: A Healthy Need… Why Voters should vote for Prop. 1

Sunday, another politician spoke for the Healthcare District and stated that that the reason we should support it is because “ we need one”. With all due respect to State Rep. Martinez, I would like to know who “we” is. Initially “we” was supposed to include only the indigent for which the state and federal governments already had programs. Where did they go? Then, the second time around, “we” was changed to indigent and poor. Now most recently he advises us that “we” means the indigent, poor, and uninsured. Therefore, in two years those covered have increased from six ercent to 30 percent of Hidalgo County’s population. Does this predict the future?

Let’s go the other way. Who is Prop. 1 NOT for? It is not for those of us who have been responsible citizens and paid extra for our supplemental Medical Insurance at work and / or those who pay into Medicare from our Social Security. It is not for the healthy poor who earn just enough to make ends meet. It is not for the renters who, due to their landlords getting no exemptions for rental property, will bear the heavier brunt of any increase. It is not for those in business already who will have to pass along the increased taxes to all of us. It is not for the future businesses that won’t come to any area that can not control its taxes. And, most of all, it’s not for our average middle class residents. They are already paying for these same recipients health care in their state and federal taxes. Addressing the rest of State Rep. Martinez’s comments would be an exercise in futility as they all revolve around how good the bill is without admitting that it is a product of an alliance between politicians and the wealthy “for profit” hospitals and can be changed at their whim just as it was this time. Respectfully Sir, No meant NO last time and it still does today.

Ned Sheats
Mission, Texas

Re: Healthcare District for Hidalgo County

On Nov. 8, Election Day, I urge you to vote for Proposition 1, which would create a Hidalgo County Healthcare District.

As our region continues to grow and prosper, it is our responsibility to make sure we are equipped with the tools to meet our community’s needs. It is our responsibility to invest in ourselves and our future.

The University of Texas System and the Texas Legislature recognized that the Rio Grande Valley has been experiencing tremendous growth with potential for so much more. With the creation of the UTRGV School of Medicine, we will receive many benefits like training tomorrow’s medical professionals. The medical school also will attract more doctors and specialists to the area so our families will not have to travel to receive care.

However, our medical school is underfunded. UT estimates it costs more than $50 million annually to operate the medical school. While UT System has been very generous with Permanent University Funds, the funds from year to year are uncertain and we cannot be relied on longterm to fund operations. UT System has committed $10 million per year for 10 years, but that is short of the $50 million annually needed. State funding is also uncertain. Last session, our legislators secured $30 million, of the $40 million requested, thanks to the efforts of state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and the Valley delegation. But given our state’s current economic conditions, this session promises to be more challenging.

A stable and reliable revenue source is needed. This is exactly what a healthcare district could provide. With a local stable funding stream, the School of Medicine could maximize resources available and invest in research and other economic development projects that come as a result of having such a school. We could create more jobs and generate economic growth. We must make a local commitment to invest in our medical school and the benefits it will bring to our community.

Every major region in the state of Texas has a healthcare district that funds their medical schools. A healthcare district is critical to the success and growth of a region and we cannot be left behind. Proposition 1 also would provide the funding needed to support our community clinics and increase our quality of life. Our children deserve this opportunity. Support Hidalgo County. Vote for Proposition 1!

Ramiro Garza Jr.,
Edinburg, Texas