The following are the questions asked by Rep. Dennis Bonnen's online opinion poll. The answers allowed are "Yes", "No", and "Undecided". Unfortunately, many of these questions appear to be "loaded", and the answers do not properly allow for an honest opinion on the subject to be given.
1) Do you support increasing the homestead exemption on property taxes?
Obviously, we need lower property taxes. However, in order to do this, we need to have lower government spending. Lower taxation upon one group of citizens (in this case, homeowners), with government spending left at the same level, leaves no option but to increase taxation upon another group of citizens (namely, business owners).
2) Do you support increasing the sales tax to lower property taxes?
Again, we do not need an increase in taxation ANYWHERE. We need less government spending and bureaucracy. If we were to cut but one unnecessary government employee from our payroll, and that employee was drawing a $30k annual salary, it would eliminate the need for property taxation on many of my relatives' homes. Of course, everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, but our taxation could be lowered overall...OR, we could be spending this money on things this county actually needs.
3) Do you support reforming the property appraisal system by requiring local property appraisal board members to be elected by the public?
I absolutely agree with this. To have any tax-collecting and/or appraising authority over the population, without having to directly answer to those they are responsible for taxing, is just asking for corruption.
4) Do you believe the State of Texas should sell toll road contracts to foreign investors or foreign businesses?
Any publicly-owned land, roads, or other property should NEVER be placed in the control of ANY entity other than the State of Texas.
5) Do you believe the State of Texas should toll existing roads?
Absolutely not. The state of Texas has used tax dollars to fund the construction and repairs of these roads, which means they have already been paid for. Texas drivers are already taxed for the privilege of driving on public roads, in the form of fees for vehicle registration and driver licensing. There is no excuse to further tax Texas drivers for the privilege of something they already own.
6) Should the State of Texas do more to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants across the Texas-Mexico border?
The state of Texas, for as long as it remains a part of the United States, has no lawful authority to enforce federal law until it adopts, as a state, legislation making it a crime at the state level to unlawfully enter the borders of our state. I have no problem with that, but such legislation must be enacted in order to prevent the dangerous legal precedent of having Texas enforce federal legislation. To the best of my knowledge, Texas has not yet done this. Please correct me if I am misinformed.
7) Do you believe sanctuary cities, where law enforcement is banned from asking persons their citizenship status, should be outlawed?
The answer to this question depends upon WHEN law enforcement is asking a particular person. If it has occurred AFTER a lawful arrest, there is no reason whatsoever that a law enforcement agency should not be able to ascertain that person's citizenship status and report it to the proper federal authorities if necessary. However, an attempt to determine such things prior to a lawful arrest is just asking for civil rights violations of bona fide American citizens. Surely, you are aware that many of your constituents are proud American citizens of Hispanic ancestry, and I think they'd reconsider voting for you, if you sponsored or supported legislation that would allow the police to pull them over merely on suspicion that they may possibly be illegal immigrants.
8) Do you believe illegal immigrants should receive in-state tuition rates to Texas state universities?
I'm honestly having difficulty believing that this question is even being asked, due to the fact that I was required to list my social security number prior to enrolling in the University of Houston (a public university). Is it not required at other universities? If you cannot provide proof that you are a legal citizen of (or visitor to) this nation, you should not be attending a public university, PERIOD. You certainly don't need to be getting "discount" rates.
9) Do you believe our schools are adequately funded?
While our schools are currently funded at a grossly inadequate level for what they are attempting to achieve, they are extremely OVERFUNDED for the purposes they are intending to serve. We need to abolish all the extraneous desirements and other unnecessary things, and focus solely upon education. We pay our teachers peanuts, but don't seem to have a problem spending millions of dollars to build the biggest and best classrooms, athletic facilities, et cetera. Get rid of the unnecessary expenditures, and start providing for our the actual education of our children. We can start by removing "standardized testing", which has done absolutely NOTHING to further the education of this state's children, and in most cases has actually prevented them from gaining any semblance of real education.
10) Do you believe your local school district spends your tax dollars efficiently and for their intended purpose?
Of course I think so. Our school districts should operate just as any other government entity should operate...as efficiently as possible, both in terms of economics AND end result. If we are lacking funding for teachers, books, et cetera, then do away with extracurricular programs such as athletics and music until we get to where we need to be. Knowledge of economics, science, English, and government is far more important than football practice.
11) Do you support granting automatic admission to state universities for any high school graduate in the top 10% of their class?
Yes. Not only should they be automatically admitted, their tuition and supplies should be funded by the state. 50% of profits gained by the lease of state lands are, according to our state constitution, appropriated for use by our state universities. Before spending on any other expenses, students that have proven themselves worthy should be allowed to attend the universities we pay for, and do so at no expense to themselves.
12) Do you support the expansion of legalized gambling to increase government revenue?
Yes, and no. I support the expansion of legalized gambling, because there is no valid reason to legally prohibit the regulated wager of one person's property against another person's property in a mutually consensual game of chance, other than a religious consideration (which is still illegal in this nation, under the 1st Amendment's "establishment" clause). As for doing it for the sake of government revenue, it should consist of no more than the price of a standard business license and the cost of a liquor license. I am not personally a gambler, but I know plenty who are, and the state's economy has lost out on a good deal of money from people who don't pay hotel occupancy taxes, sales taxes on food and beverages, et cetera when these things are paid for in out-of-state locations. Yes, you are going to see "gambling addicts" when you open a casino, but is that really any different from the man who spends $150 on lottery tickets at the gas station?
13) Do you favor alternatives to prison for those convicted of non-violent offenses to save money on new prison construction?
No. I favor a proactive approach to reducing the number of "criminal acts" on our books that have no actual and nameable "person" that can be called a "victim". I do not endorse illicit drug use, prostitution, pornography, gambling, or any other victimless crimes that harm absolutely no one but the consenting adult participants. Child neglect, child abuse, rape, murder, robbery, theft, and intoxicated driving are already crimes, there is no reason to criminalize anything that does not victimize any unwilling participants. We could INSTANTLY reduce our prison costs by 20%, solely by decriminalizing the sale and possession of currently-illicit drugs.
14) Do you support prayer in our public schools?
Prayer in public schools is legal, and will continue to be legal, unless we foolishly repeal the 1st Amendment of our constitution. On the same note, ADMINISTRATION-SPONSORED school prayer is illegal, and this is also due to the First Amendment. I support the freedom of religion, and that includes freedom of our public school students to NOT be forced to pray in a manner they do not agree with or believe in. Believe it or not, America (yes, even Texas) is populated partially by people who do not happen to be Christian. Furthermore, not every Christian believes in the same discipline, nor do they pray the same way. It is a violation of religious freedom to regulate the manner in which prayers are said in a public place.
15) Do you support a voucher system, whereby the state would pay a specified amount per student to any school (religious, secular, charter, home school) selected by the parents?
Absolutely not. The moment we begin to pay for private schools with taxpayer funds, they essentially become unregulated public schools. If our public schools are not good enough to send your child to, then you either need to demand that your tax dollars are spent more wisely, or you need to pay your child's way into a public school from your own pocket. I have no children at the present time, and I'm not entirely happy that my tax dollars are spent to fund the educations of children that aren't my own. I would be even more unhappy to see those dollars being spent on the private educations of other peoples' children.
16) Do you support the state using school property tax abatements to lure new businesses from other states?
If it can be shown that a temporary abatement will provide (after the abatement has expired, but within a time period equal to that as the abatement) that the district will recoup more property tax money than the original owner of the property would have provided in the combined time period (abatement period, plus equal-length non-abated period), then yes. If it is merely an excuse to bring businesses to the area, and those businesses are not contributing their fair share of taxes, then no.
17) Do you favor state-funded abortions?
Again, yes and no. I do not favor state-funded health care, as state-funded industry is typically far more wasteful and corrupt than private industry. However, if we are to provide state-funded health care, ALL medical procedures should be covered, other than those of a cosmetic nature.