Evan Smith interviewed Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, Paul Workman of Austin, and Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs at this morning's TribLive event in Austin.
All three say Straus — like the other candidates — is "sufficiently conservative" to lead the House.
Isaac: It's going to be painful. Everybody's going to have to cut. We'll cut our own budgets.
All three men say — as they did during their campaigns — that they're against any new taxes.
Isaac: "We hide a lot of fees to avoid calling them taxes. I just see them as another tax." He says the Legislature should write its budget without "penalizing Texans."
You can never have enough money, he says, but says you have to figure out what you can afford to do.
Workman says "we have got to invest in our infrastructure, whether it's roads or higher education."
Workman would spend no more than half. Isaac says using more than that would affect our bond ratings. And, he says, the money shouldn't be used to balance the budget but to use the money to provide relief to business and other taxpayers.
Workman won't go that far.
Gonzales says "that's what it's there for." "I look at that as a source of income.... that's the point. It's raining."
Gonzales: "I don't think there's a blanket answer." He says each rep was elected for local reasons.
He says Straus' early help for his opponent, Patrick Rose, "really brought the base around for me," and says it really helped his campaign.
Isaac: "Our current president has done a fantastic job of getting people involved in this process." Both in his election in 2008 and in this last election.
As for Tea, "they like to be independent, but they are conservative."
Isaac: "I got into this to represent House District 45." Says voters will have a chance to rule on what he's done in two years.
All three say they won't be influenced by the groups, or by threats of electoral retribution for voting this way or that, and will leave their fates to voters.
"Until we do something to stop the free flow of immigrants ... talking about what to do with them is irrelevant.
"Until we can secure the border, I don't think we need to talk about what to do with them when they're here."
"I'm not here to preach to Hispanics about us ... Just watch us. ... It's an opportunity to have a conversation that is a little more diverse (having Hispanics in the House GOP)."
"You can be a conservative Hispanic."
Workman says we need to focus on drug trade and the like. But he says it's a federal issue more than a state issue. He says the border fence has holes in it: "I'm not sure why we did what we did."
Isaac: "We need workers, no doubt about it." But he says they need to be documented.
Gonzales: "This is part of re-prioritizing government." Says the state needs to make sure the people in Texas working on border security have the tools and resources they need.
Isaac: Talks about a clinic his church started on Fridays for poeple without health insurance. "I think we need to see some mroe of that."
He says the federal funding for those programs is messed up, "incentives for us to spend money to get our federal tax dollars back. ... we should be trying to hang onto those dollars in the first place."
Isaac and Gonzales also say they don't think it's practical for the state to withdraw from Medicaid.
Gonzales: "When you have as many state government employees in your district as we do, that's something you hear about quite a bit."
Workman: "I've been told the state pension fund is funded at around 82 percent, which is generally considered safe."
Workman: "I don't know if we'll pick up a seat [in Travis County], but we are overpopulated."
Gonzales says Williamson will gain a House seat because of its population growth (it and Milam County currently have two seats between them).
Isaac has three counties in his district, including Hays, which is growing quickly. He says his district will shrink in geographic size because of that growth.
Isaac says it's "important that we protect those communities."
Workman says the state has a long tradition of leaving party labels at the door of the Capitol. "We have to do what's right for the state of Texas, and i think the Democrats think that, too."
Gonzales: "150 of us were elected."
Isaac says he gets emails saying, "just send them off to Oklahoma." ... "You can't do that ... we're going to have to work together."
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