AUSTIN, Texas — State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer has been traveling to Austin for legislative sessions since he was first elected in 2000.
But this year, the San Antonio Democrat tells us, is different than any of those that came before.
“This is my 11th term. Every time I come here, there’s some fantastic ideas but no money. So, now we have a little bit of money to invest in our people,” Martinez Fischer told us on Inside Texas Politics. “And let’s see who has a better vision of helping middle class Texans struggle through what we know is a very tough time.”
A “little bit of money” is a Texas-sized understatement.
Lawmakers will decide how to spend a record $32.7 billion budget surplus. That is more than the entire budget in 29 other states.
While reducing our property taxes has received the lion’s share of the attention heading into the session, Rep. Martinez Fischer says that wouldn’t help all Texans, such as renters.
The Democrat says he’d like to discuss the idea of sending inflation assistance payments directly to Texans.
He argues that, since Republicans talk so much about liberty and choice, why not give Texans the choice to decide how to spend their own money?
“We know times are tough. We’re going to give this to you,” he said. “If you want to buy medicine, you can buy medicine. You want to cut your taxes, you can cut your taxes. You want to help your son or daughter pay that high college tuition? We’ll give you that flexibility.”
And as the new chair of the Democratic caucus in the Texas House, Martinez Fischer will hold a key role in the debate and bring a different political energy to the position.
He remembers his days as a linebacker at San Antonio’s Oliver Wendell Holmes High School and says he still only has two speeds: on and off.
“When you come to Austin, you can do two things: you can come up here to be loved, or you can come up here to be feared. And frankly, I get all my love at home, right? When I come up here, it’s about business,” said Martinez Fischer.