NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke stopped in East Texas on Thursday afternoon to hold a public town hall as part of his People of Texas Campaign.
KETK’s Sarah Alegre reported live in Nacogdoches to bring full coverage of the event, which started at 5:30 p.m. at the Fredonia Hotel Courtyard.
O’Rourke spoke about expanding Medicaid, increasing pay for teachers and raising the minimum wage in Texas.
He started off by saying he is getting to know more about the communities in Texas due to traveling to meet with voters.
“We started to travel this state showing up everywhere, writing nobody off, taking nobody for granted, making sure that we understand how we’re going to bring this deeply divided highly fractured place back together again,” said O’Rourke.
He also said he visited Crockett, Texas, and people told him that they have to travel many hours to see a doctor or specialist or get mental help.
“Mental health care access is lower in East Texas than it is in almost any other part of the state. Mental healthcare outcomes are worse in East Texas than they are in almost any other part of the state,” said O’Rourke.
He also reiterated that Texas is the least insured state in America, and he supports expanding Medicaid.
“If they try to tell you that expanding Medicaid and ensuring that more people are insured is expensive, you tell them it may be, but it is a lot less expensive than not expanding Medicaid and not ensuring that people can see a doctor. We should be able to get this done,” said O’Rourke.
He also spoke against the Heartbeat Law and mentioned he wants to work on the issues affecting the Texas school system. Texas was ranked 34th in education compared to other states, according to a recent U.S. News and World Report survey.
“We’re graduating young people who are not career ready and college ready in the state. Not that our kids are any less smart than the kids in those other places. Certainly not because of our teachers who very often are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet,” said O’Rourke.
He then stated that Texas educators are underpaid, and it is difficult for the state to retain good educators. O’Rourke wants to improve the income for teachers, which has been fixed since 2004.
Providing all day prekindergarten for every Texan and raising the minimum wage are also some of O’Rourke’s priorities. He said marijuana should be legalized in Texas, and he would try to do this in his first year in office as governor.
As part of his People of Texas Campaign, O’Rourke is visiting every part of the State of Texas throughout the month of March.
During these events, he said he will focus on how the people of Texas can overcome the current divisions and unite around the popular things that Texans want to accomplish together, such as:
- expanding Medicaid
- creating jobs that pay a living wage
- fully funding schools while “having the backs of teachers”
- ensuring that everyone can live to their full potential
O’Rourke also intends to highlight what he believes to be the failures of Gov. Greg Abbott, claiming that the governor “has spent the past seven years serving his own interests and those of his corporate donors while repeatedly leaving the people of Texas behind.”
He has further claimed that Abbott’s “obsessive focus on an extreme, radical agenda that divides, attacks, and hurts the people of Texas has come at the direct expense of this state’s schools, health, workers, families and communities.”
Watch the full video below: