Rita Lucido for Texas State Senate
Texas Senate District 17 in TX http://www.ritalucido.com
3300 Chimney Rock Suite 105
Primary Election Date: 2014-03-04 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
In a state that ranks at the bottom in all things from education to basic infrastructure, I pride myself on being a different type of a leader.
As a family law attorney of 30 years, I have spent a career solving problems that appear to be insurmountable. I am proud to have helped my clients through the most difficult times with efficient, common sense solutions.
My commitment to intelligent governance, solving problems and ensuring equality of opportunity extends beyond the courthouse. As a community volunteer, I have raised money and served in volunteer leadership roles for organizations ranging from the Houston Area Women’s Center, AVANCE Support and Education Program-Houston, DiverseWorks, and Planned Parenthood. I have been honored by both Houston Area Women’s Center and Planned Parenthood for my exceptional involvement and volunteer dedication.
When the legislature passed parental notification laws that ignored the plight of abused and abandoned teens and those living in dysfunctional homes, I worked with other attorneys to form a state-wide non profit called Jane’s Due Process, JDP helps pregnant teenagers find supportive and legal pathways to understand their rights and exercise their choices.
As the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college and the grandchild of Italian immigrants, I understand the importance of education in achieving the American Dream. Growing up in Dallas, I attended Catholic schools, graduated from Ursuline Academy, and went on to get my BA from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I earned my law degree from the University of Houston in 1982 and have lived in Houston ever since. I am married to Philip Costa, and have one step-daughter, Leigh.
Professionally, I have been a member of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, served as a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow, as a member of the Association of Women Attorneys and on its foundation board, as an organizer and president of Texas Women Lawyers, and on the State Bar’s Women in the Profession Committee. I am also an alum of Leadership Texas.
Why am I running?
I have been very fortunate to serve and lead several non-profit organizations in the Houston Area. I learned about the problems in my community and I saw people coming together to solve those problems. But our leaders in Austin have not served the citizens with the same common-sense determination.
Texas can do better. Report after report shows Texas floundering at the bottom of national rankings for healthcare, education, and infrastructure. For a state as great as Texas there is no excuse for our disappointing performance.
Texas ranks last in the nation in insured residents. There are over six million Texans without health insurance. Over 852,000 Texas children are without insurance. These are our neighbors, our families and friends living day to day with the fear that one accident or one illness will result in financial ruin. Two million Texans could have been covered by an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, but partisan politics kept Gov. Perry and his Republican Senate colleagues from accepting $7.7 billion in federal healthcare funding.
In 2011, Texas House and Senate Republicans voted to cut $5.2 billion in education funding. These cuts decimated our education system. Class sizes soared and about 12,000 educators were laid off. The growth in energy, medicine, and technology in our state economy demands more. We cannot continue to allow Texas schools to rank at the bottom of the nation.
In 2013 the Texas Senate spent three special sessions restricting the rights of Texas women to control their own reproductive future, instead of addressing the state’s infrastructure needs. When they finally took up transportation funding they only approved 25% of the funds needed to maintain the state infrastructure. The demand for energy production from Texas’s vast natural resources and our growing, diverse population requires 21st Century transportation solutions, not avoidance of hard decisions and responsible planning.
Texas has to do better and I want to bring thoughtful leadership and common-sense solutions to the Texas Senate rather than following the partisan edicts of current Senate leadership that ignores the needs of many Texans. This state has too much potential, too much to be proud of to allow our current path to continue.
Texas ranks 49th in per-pupil investment. Despite growing enrollment and an economy that demands a skilled and educated workforce, the 2011 Texas legislature cut five billion dollars of funding to our public schools. Cutting public education funds is short-sighted. It negatively affects not only our most vulnerable students, but also hurts all public school children in Texas. Texas students deserve better. Decades of research has shown that good public preschool programs improve early learning and help give children a good start when they enter kindergarten. Yet, two-thirds of Texas’ low-income 3 and 4 year olds are not participating in preschool education. In 2011, the Texas legislature eliminated millions of dollars in funding for Pre-K expansion grants. The 83rd Legislative session restored only 14% of that grant funding. I want to work to properly fund our public education system and to ensure that every Texas public school student receives a high quality education and a good educational start.
Texas is facing a transportation crisis. A shortfall in funding is looming, which, if not addressed, will result in increased congestion, traffic delays, accidents, increased costs for vehicle repairs and higher costs of goods. Several factors have contributed to the Texas transportation crisis: a shrinking gas tax, a growing population, increased maintenance for old roads, and a funding crisis. The upcoming legislative session can be the one where we address our infrastructure needs in a comprehensive way with long term planning and financing or kick the can down the road yet again. I want to be part of that planning and the team that will finally address our transportation needs.
Texas has the highest rate (25%) of uninsured residents in the United States. The problem is even worse in Harris County with a third of all residents uninsured. Investing in human capital by ensuring a healthy workforce is good for Texas’ economy. Children cannot learn and adults cannot work when they are in poor health. It makes sense to promote the health and well-being of all Texans. Texas has to do better. With twenty-five percent of our neighbors lacking health insurance our leaders have to do more. 126 of our 254 counties do not have enough primary care providers because the state does not fund residency programs adequately. Instead of working to help insure more of our neighbors Republican leaders like Gov. Perry and my opponent blocked Texas from receiving $7.7 billion in federal healthcare funding. It’s time our leaders solve this problem and I believe there will be another opportunity to access those federal funds in the 84th legislative session. I want to be part of the coalition that crafts that solution for Texas.
My DFA Values
I believe our students should expect more from us. Texas must fully fund its education system if this next generation is to be successful in the work place. With a good education our young people are free to dream about their futures. They can secure a bright future for themselves and not be reliant on others. We are failing our young people by not providing them the most basic foundation for a prosperous future, a quality education.
We must do more to make healthcare attainable and affordable for our neighbors and our families. For too long Texas has ranked last or close to last in uninsured residents. Too many in our community are one illness, one accident away from financial ruin. This failure to provide access to healthcare is costing taxpayers billions. It is not only cruel, but directly impacts our work force and the ability of Texans to lead prosperous lives.
The residents of Senate District 17 deserve a voice in Austin that fights for everyone. Regardless of race, gender, religion, orientation, or national origin. Every Texan deserves the right to get an education, practice their religion, make healthcare decisions that are right for them and their family, marry who they love, and not be discriminated against in the workforce. I will fight for the rights of all Texans to be respected.
My Campaign is People Powered!
My campaign continually works with grassroots organizations and leaders. We are supporting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance along with GLBT Political Caucus of Houston and the Greater Houston Partnership to ensure that no Houstonian is discriminated against. Houston is an open city where anyone who works hard and follows the law is welcome. I believe it is time for our local laws to reflect that
I have been a founding board member of several organizations and know how to bring people together to work for a common goal. As a former board chair of Jane’s Due Process and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast I know that healthcare decisions should be between a patient and their doctor, not between the patient and Republican legislators in Austin. Planned Parenthood clinics across the state were forced to close their doors after recent legislation. Closing these clinics deprives thousands of low-income men and women of affordable preventive care. I have testified before both houses of the Texas legislature and been an activist for women’s rights during my entire legal career. Those values are present in my campaign and will continue to be part of my service in the Texas Legislature.