Legislators dodge Obamacare question at Kennedale Chamber event


By A. Lee Graham lgraham@bizpress.net   Obamacare came under fire at a July 17 luncheon where state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and state Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) discussed strides made in the 83rd Texas Legislative session. “That’s a great question,” said Davis when asked about unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Asking if the state Legislature is doing anything to address the issue was Jack Dalrymple, director of academic affairs with Tarrant County College’s Northeast Campus. Dalrymple posed the question at the conclusion of the Kennedale Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Life Fellowship Church. “We are working to define what the Texas position to the Affordable Care Act would and should look like,” Davis said. Zedler’s response was more direct. “Socialized medicine doesn’t work,” said Zedler, an outspoken conservative. “Over the long haul, people are realizing that this is not a good program.” Neither Davis nor Zedler offered a specific solution to the concern raised by Dalrymple – namely, employers scaling back employees’ work hours as they fear higher health-care costs as a result of new federal health care requirements. But the state representatives focused more on the most recent state legislative session than on federal issues. For Davis, that meant the “Texas Jobs First” legislation that she filed to give preference to Texans in awarding state contracts and attempting to stop more than $5 billion in funding cuts to Texas public schools. The cuts caused about 25,000 educators to lose their jobs. “It was a huge job loss in the state,” Davis said. But Davis and other legislators restored some of that public school funding. Because a large portion of taxes paid to county tax assessors goes to school property taxes, legislators managed to find some added funding due to a growth in property valuation. Davis recalled her 2011 filibuster that forced a special session in an attempt to stop those cuts, but she did not discuss her more recent filibuster – her 11-hour attempt on June 25 to block a bill restricting abortions. The bill eventually passed. Zedler made no mention of the abortion debate. Rather, he credited the state’s refusal to raise taxes for providing what the state comptroller earlier this year described as an $8.8 billion budget surplus. “When you raise taxes, it stifles the economy, and what happens is you have slower growth coming out of these recessions,” said Zedler, pointing to the 2008 economic downturn as an example. Zedler also explained why he and his colleagues opted against expanding Medicaid in Texas.