Public education, environment priority for governor candidate

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    A financial commitment to improving the state of Texas is what gubernatorial Democratic candidate Chris Bell said sets him apart from his competitors in a speech Wednesday in Smith Entrepreneurs Hall.Improving public education, the environment and quality of life for the lower class in Texas are three of his top campaign issues, Bell said.

    Bell said visiting colleges is important to him because politicians have a tendency to only reach out to the citizens they know will vote for them – not the younger crowd.

    “It is your world we are talking about out here,” Bell said.

    He told an audience of about 50 students and faculty that it is imperative students get involved in politics.

    “Whatever your views are, it is important you let your voice be heard and get involved,” Bell said. “It is the only way you can shape your future.”

    Bell said Texas has fallen behind the country on almost every issue there is to fall behind on, and said he considers this election year a chance to take Texas in a new direction.

    “We live in a big state with big dreams, but we face even bigger challenges,” Bell said. “And there is no greater challenge and no greater priority than public education.”

    Bell, who stressed Texas’ school dropout rate is the highest in the nation, said strong leaders and an even stronger financial dedication is what the state needs to improve its school system.

    “There is no reason a state as wealthy as Texas should be following the nation in education,” Bell said.

    He said paying teachers the national average would be the first place to start, which would mean a $4,000 pay increase across the board, he said.

    Bell said he grew up in a time when Texas was leading the nation in issues like health care and education.

    “Somewhere along the line, we lost that mind-set,” Bell said. “The Texas most of us see in our hearts is not the Texas we see today.”

    Lauren Adams, a sophomore communication studies major, said Bell’s speech solidified who she will vote for.

    “He’s passionate about public education, which is important to me,” Adams said.

    Bell said finances and budgets are some of the most important and effective ways to improve issues.

    “I believe the state’s budget is morally out of balance,” Bell said, referencing Gov. Rick Perry’s 2003 cuts to children’s health care.

    “Budgets aren’t just numbers,” Bell said. “There are human consequences attached.”

    Elizabeth Hague, a junior political science major, said she originally supported independent candidate Kinky Friedman, but is most likely to vote for Bell now, she said.

    “He has an actual plan of what he’s going to do, and he’s willing to talk about it,” Hague said.

    When Bell’s campaign team asked TCU if there was a professor who would be willing to host him as part of their class, Adam Schiffer, assistant professor of political science, agreed to do it.

    “This isn’t an endorsement of his campaign, but it’s a chance to host a high-profile politician,” Schiffer said.

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