Conroe, January 17 – Texas House of Representatives candidate Steve Toth, who is running for the District 15 seat that Mark Keough is leaving in order to run for Montgomery County Judge, had an hour-long opportunity on January 4, 2018, to speak and to answer audience questions at the Montgomery County Eagle Forum. Toth’s electoral opponent, Jackie Waters, chose not to attend the event and remained at her home in The Woodlands during the meeting, according to the event’s moderator Paul Gebolys. Waters had previously accepted the invitation to participate in the candidate forum but backed out a few hours before the Thursday evening event was to begin.
Toth told the crowd, “There are huge issues before the State of Texas as we come into the 86th Texas Legislature. The healthcare for teachers system is broken. The TRS Care system is going broke, because our current state leaders have allowed that to happen. Now, they want to drain the rainy day fund, so they can then try to raise taxes while claiming there are no cash reserves.”
In response to a question from local leftist gadfly Walter Boyd, Toth explained that there are also problems with the Legislature’s funding of judicial retirement. “The legislators’ retirements are tied to judges, so they have a perverse incentive how to manage those funds,” Toth said.
Eagle Forum Chair Betty Anderson, a conservative activist who has educated conservatives in Montgomery County for more than three decades, asked Toth about his position on home schooling, which many other conservative leaders, such as GOP Precinct Chair Ginger Russell, believe is under attack from state leaders who want to regulate it. Toth responded, “I’m a home school dad. I don’t believe that one size fits all in our education system. We need to let homeschoolers do their thing. As to public schools, we need to allow local decision making.
John Hill Wertz, the Vetting Committee Chairman of the Montgomery County Tea Party, asked “Would you sponsor special purpose legislation that would make rent-a-voter schemes illegal?” Toth answered unequivocally, “Yes, it should be illegal.”
Citizen David Ash asked about Toth’s position with respect to necessary reforms of the San Jacinto River Authority, a hot topic on Toth’s legislative priorities list. Toth answered with his philosophical guns a-blazing: “The SJRA is coming out for sunset review this year. There’s a strong sentiment that we want to seek a shakeup on the SJRA Board of Directors. The Board needs to have engineers and put modeling in place. Currently, they have no direction from hydrologists…SJRA’s primary responsibility was flood mitigation, but it’s not even on their radar. It’s a dereliction of their duty.”
Toth added that “river authorities should be elected positions, not appointed. There should be mandatory modeling before they open up the dam.”
Toth also pointed out that Montgomery County is not currently getting its fair share of Transportation Infrastructure Funds from the State.
Republican Precinct Chairman and Empower Texans Correspondent Reagan Reed asked whether Toth would be willing to carry legislation to give “teeth to the Montgomery County ethics policy” so there are no longer rampant problems of nepotism and conflicts of interest in the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Toth recalled that “in March 2013, District Attorney Brett Ligon said that his office ought not be the backstop for the Commissioners Court’s ethics. There have been no significant changes since then.”
In response to a question from Republican Area Chairman Mark Frank, Toth said that stopping forced annexations by municipalities will be one of his highest priorities as a legislator. “I also want to end the scam of the appraisal districts. I would love to see us do away with appraisal districts altogether,” Toth told the group.
Renowned conservative leader and Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC Vice President Jon Baumann asked whether Toth would work to ensure that the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives was elected in the majority-party Republican Caucus. Toth predicted “there will be a war on the House floor” if that didn’t happen.
In response to a question from Dale Fessendon, Toth said that he favors a consumption tax over property taxation and that he believes that State should engage in zero-based budgeting during each legislative session.
Boyd asked Toth if Toth wanted to comment on his opponent’s failure to show up for the forum. Toth declined.
Toth concluded his presentation with the comment that upcoming legislative issues were not for the feint of heart, including property tax reform, saving the teacher retirement system, and immigration issues. “It’s going to be a tough job and I’m up for it,” Toth said.