Before You Vote: 5 Things to Know About the Texas Governor's Race

Oct 31, 2014

Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis are in the home stretch of their battle to become the next Texas Governor. And by now, the candidates have done pretty much all they can to make sure voters know who they are and what their plans for are for the state. But just in case you weren't sure, here's a look at the differences, and similarities, between the two on 5 specific issues.

Let's start with education, specifically K-12 public schools.

Here, and you might see a pattern throughout this story, both candidates say they want Texas to have an elite public school system.

"We do that by starting with the fundamental building blocks for reading and writing from the very beginning," said Abbott during his second debate with Davis.

Abbott's plan calls for more classroom control, less testing, and more technology. Davis also wants to limit testing, but also expand full-day pre-K programs across the state and fully restore the billions cut from public schools in 2011.
But how will the state pay for either plan?

Senator Davis summed up both candidate's answers: "That comes at a price, but the question to ask is what price will we pay as a state if we don't," Davis said in the second debate.

So, it's not actually clear how they propose paying for their education plans.

Another campaign promise that may not actually have a funding mechanism attached: Transportation.

Both candidates say the state can build new roads without raising taxes by ending the current diversion of billions that are collected for road construction, but spent on other things in the state budget.

"That plan would allow us to capture an additional $4 to $5 billion, with a gradual step down and a plan to fill the hole where those diversions would end," Davis said.

Abbott has his own three point plan on funding roads. Step one, like Davis, end diversions.

"Two, we take part of the oil and gas severance tax and dedicate that to building roads. Three, we take part of the sales taxes that you're already paying when you buy your car or truck and use it to build roads that those cars and trucks are driving on," Abbott said.

Both say they will not expand the use of toll roads. But neither has expanded on the real difficulty of ending the billions in transportation diversions, without cutting something else in the budget, or finding another way to pay for it.

There are a few areas where there is a clear difference between the candidates. Take border security. Abbott wants to nearly double spending for Texas Department of Public Safety patrols along the border.

"I'll mobilize more than 1,000 DPS personnel for a continuous surge operation. And add 500 more troopers over a 4-year period to build a permanent border shield," Abbott said at a press conference on his Securing Texans plan.

He also wants to make sure no undocumented immigrants are being employed by the state. He wants to require all state agencies to use the E-Verify system that checks a prospective employee's legal status. He would not extend that requirement to private sector jobs.

Davis wants a strong border too, but says Abbott's plan only insults the people who live along the border. During this campaign she's harped on a statement Abbott made about corruption by some law officers along the border. Abbott said they, "resembles third world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities."

"Comments from my opponent calling this area 'third world' are inappropriate. And as governor, I will work with this community, through our tourism fund to help repair the tarnished image that's occurred as a consequence," Davis said.

Abbott has shrugged off the controversy, saying he was referring to corruption anywhere in the state, not just the Rio Grande Valley.

Let’s move on to the Affordable Care Act. It’s been another issue with opposing opinions. Davis wants full implementation of the law in Texas, including the expansion of Medicaid. That expansion would draw down $100 billion in federal money over 10 years.

Abbott has fought against the health care law, challenging it in the courts. He’s played up Davis’ embrace of the ACA -- linking her to President Obama -- as you can see in this TV ad.

And finally, let's take a look at marriage equality. This isn't exactly an issue with much nuance, candidates are usually either for it – or against it. Davis is for it.

"And I want to make sure that people who love each other, who are willing to be in a committed relationship with each other and who desire to marry in our state, have the opportunity to do so," Davis said.

Abbott opposes gay marriage, but over the last several months, has softened his tone on the issue.

After a federal judge declared the state's ban unconstitutional in February, Abbott released a statement saying, "...there are good, well-meaning people on both sides" of the issue. Although he says states should still maintain the right to set their own marriage laws.