Policy Update: Education / ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, NOV. 6 / Endorsements / Open Enrollment for 2019 Healthcare Coverage: Now through December 15th

Policy Update: Education

I firmly believe that EDUCATION IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER. That is why I support improving the quality, access, and affordability of education from pre-K to college.

Full day quality pre-k

I have filed a bill the last two sessions to ensure every child in Texas a quality full-day pre-k education. I strongly believe in the need for early childhood education.  I, along with millions of other children who were born into families with adequate means, have benefitted from the great advantage that pre-kindergarten education provides. The relationship between school success and economic status is present as early as kindergarten. Unfortunately, kids who start at a disadvantage often have a hard time catching up. The likelihood of being school ready is 9 percent higher for children attending preschool. These findings should not be ignored. For a promising Texas future, the investment in student success has to start from the very beginning with pre-kindergarten. 

Source: Raise Your Hand Texas, 2018. Texas met only four of 10 benchmarks for quality and dropped two places relative to other states in pre-K investments in 2016-17, according to a State of Preschool report released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Texas ranked 28th in state pre-k spending overall — down from 26th in 2015-16. State pre-k funding declined by about $45 million or five percent according to the report.

A Texas A&M University study shows a benefit to society of $3.50 for every dollar invested in pre-K in increased earnings, reduced need for remedial or special education, reduced future incarceration rates, and reduced reliance on public assistance. For that to happen, Texas has to reverse the trend of decreasing investment in our students. 

Because full-day quality Pre-K is so important I will file this bill again during the upcoming 2019 legislative session, continuing my efforts to make sure that these advantages are available to everyone. Ensuring that all Texas children receive the benefit of early childhood education is an important part of securing the future of our state.

School accountability system

Our school accountability system needs to be fixed. I am committed to finding a reasonable solution that will allow school districts to find the best solution for their students’ success and that fits their community.

The law needs to have more flexibility because TEA Commissioner Mike Morath is threatening to take over all of Houston Independent School District just because a few of the 284 schools are underperforming. We have a diverse state with over a 1,000 school districts, and having a rigid policy that treats Houston, Beaumont, and Sabine Pass all the same is bad public policy. That is why I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Texas Legislature next session to create a policy that allows for multiple options to ensure accountability can be achieved successfully in every Texas community.

Top 10 percent rule
I helped pass and preserve Texas’s Top Ten Percent Rule because it assists historically under-represented students in gaining admission to Texas’ top institutions of higher learning. Additionally, students admitted under the Top 10 Percent law receive better grades and graduate at higher rates

Furthermore, eliminating or curtailing admissions under the Top 10 Percent law, coupled with skyrocketing tuition and fees will only create a greater divide in Texas between those that have access to quality education and those that do not.

Supporting Higher Education

Higher education is a worthy investment. College graduates with a 4-year degree make nearly twice as much as someone with only a high school diploma.  A 4-year degree is key for Black families to get ahead. The median income for Black families without a college degree is just above the federal poverty level, whereas the median income for Black families with a college degree is twice as large. College graduates are also more likely to own a homeless likely to be unemployed, and less likely to commit a crime.

I fought hard to improve higher education in Texas by strongly opposing tuition de-regulation, pushing for more tier one universities, and supporting our universities in District 147.

Tuition De-regulation
Since the Legislature de-regulated tuition in 2003, the price of tuition at state universities has skyrocketed. The average cost of tuition and fees has more than doubled since then. The sharp rise in prices has negatively impacted Texas families, and the legislature must address this issue.

From Texas Tribune Article: Texas families are struggling to pay for college — but so is the state

In 2003, Republicans gained control of the Texas House, Senate, Governorship, and Lieutenant Governorship for the first time since Reconstruction. The legislature faced a $10 billion budget shortfall. Instead of making the choices necessary to make Texas better off in the long run, lawmakers made the choice to pass tuition de-regulation instead of properly funding what should be a top priority of the state. Additionally, the Republican-led legislature cut $245 million from general revenue from state universities.  Those actions led to an average tuition increase of around $252 per semester by the fall of 2004.

The cost of college has become so expensive that students are forced to take out large personal loans to cover the cost of going to school, even when there is financial support from their family. That has a twofold impact on Texas families. First, working Texans will need to either make significant cuts to their family budget or delay their retirement to send their children to college. Second, once a student graduates, it is difficult for them to enter the middle class and start a family when they are looking for entry-level jobs with debt from student loans they need to start paying off. Furthermore, the high cost of college is one of the leading causes of why students drop out.

Since tuition de-regulation, I have authored bills in multiple sessions to regulate tuition at state universities. However, each session the Republican-controlled legislature has not had the will to take on this pressing issue. To compound the problem, the legislature has continued to inadequately fund our state universities. The University of Houston receives only “$1 more per credit hour from the state in 2017 than it did in 2000.” This under-funding has given universities no choice but to increase tuition to simply keep up. The legislature can no longer sit on the sideline and pretend that this is not our concern.

Tier-One Universities
In 2001, Representative Rob Junell (D-San Angelo) and I passed House Bill (HB) 1839. HB 1839 created the Texas Excellence Fund and the University Research Fund for Texas universities. Those funds were used to start the effort to raise multiple universities around the state to the level of the University of Texas (UT) and Texas A&M University (TAMU).

However, Governor Perry vetoed the funds in 2003 and the money was moved to benefit UT and TAMU. Along with tuition de-regulation in 2003, this made the dream of a first-class college education seem even more unattainable. In 2008, the Legislative Study Group, a Texas House caucus that I chair, released a white paper outlining what could be done to improve Texas’ higher education system. Click here to view that white paper. One of the recommendations was to increase the number of tier one public research universities in Texas so that Texas could compete with California.

In 2009, I joined Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas) on HB 51, setting up a pathway for universities in Texas to achieve tier one status. Along with House Joint Resolution 14 by Representative Frank Corte Jr. (R-San Antonio) and sponsored by Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), nearly $300 million was authorized to enhance our public universities over five years.

In part of the passage of HB 51, the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas all became tier one research universities.

Texas now has eight total tier one research universities, seven of which are public. Before HB 51, too many students were unable to attend a tier one university because of limited enrollment spots, tuition costs, and campuses being too far from home. HB 51 has helped to address these issues, and more minority and low-income students in Texas are now able to receive a first-class education.

Universities in District 147
I am proud to represent three outstanding universities in District 147: Texas Southern University (TSU), the University of Houston (UH), and my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas. 

Representative Garnet Coleman’s Honorary Doctorate from Texas Southern University.

TSU has always been close to my heart – some of my fondest memories include attending dances in the Tiger Room and gathering with my family and friends on the TSU campus. I am also proud that my father, the late Dr. John B. Coleman, served on the TSU Board of Regents. In 1999 and 2000 Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and I worked with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and others to develop a plan to correct disparities in state support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Senator Ellis and I pushed this plan through the legislature in 2001, and were able to increase funding for TSU by 31% in order to improve student success, create a merit-based scholarship program, strengthen existing programs, construct a new science building, and create 10 new programs in seven fields including the Barbra Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. Fellow HBCU Prairie View A&M University received a 43% increase in funding that year to also improve student success and their campus.

One of my proudest moments as a state legislator was standing up to then Governor Rick Perry in 2007 as he tried to essentially take over TSU. I worked tirelessly to prevent this from happening, including making sure there was an additional $38.6 million for TSU in the 2007 supplemental appropriations bill. I also worked with our then Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to place an amendment on HB 3851 preventing Governor Perry from placing a conservator over TSU, guarantee that TSU received $38.6 million in the supplemental budget, and held the Governor, his appointees, and the State accountable for its stewardship of TSU by creating a rehab plan complete with benchmarks and progress reports. This hard work paid off and TSU’s probation was lifted in June of 2009I also made sure TSU got $60 million in Tuition Revenue Bonds in HB 100 (85R) by Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) for constructing and improving facilities, including the Robert J. Terry Library.

I am proud that I have been able to help UH grow dramatically over the last decade. Beyond helping it achieve Tier One status in 2011, I have successfully put riders in the State’s budget the last few sessions to create the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs. I am proud that the Hobby School honored me by naming their award for Student Excellence after me. I have also worked withRepresentative Armando Walle (D-Houston) to create the UH College of Medicine that will enroll its first class in the fall of 2020. In 2015, I put a rider in the budget to kick off the UH medical school. In 2017, Representative Walle joint authored another rider with me to continue to move the ball forward on the UH medical school.

Additionally, because TSU and UH are public universities, I fought to get these universities millions of dollars to make necessary repairs not covered by insurance after Hurricane Ike in 2009. I will do the same for both universities this next session.

From left to right: Representative Garnet Coleman, Spring 2018 Recipient of the Garnet Coleman Award for Student Excellence Alexander May, and UH Professor of Management and Psychology Alan Witt.

My alma mater, the University of St. Thomas, is a private university and does not receive funding from the state. However, many students who attend the University of St. Thomas and other private colleges receive Texas Equalization Grants (TEG), which help students with good grades afford private, non-profit universities in this state. I have always fought for additional funding for TEG because they are a win-win for everyone. The state spends only a portion of what it otherwise would have spent if the student were to attend a public university, and the student receives additional funding to help afford an education they may not otherwise have been able to pay for. Finally, private universities such as the University of St. Thomas are able to attract great students who otherwise would not have had the financial means to attend.

Because I believe that education is the great equalizer, I will continue to fight to improve higher education in Texas if re-elected.




TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH IS ELECTION DAY. Polls open 7am-7pm.  See below for voting locations. Don’t forget an acceptable form of ID (see below).

Important Election Day Note: On Election Day, in Texas, a voter must vote at the voting location the precinct in which he/she is registered to vote has been designated to vote.Election Day

Tuesday, November 6: 7am – 7pm

Click here for a list of acceptable photo ID.

Click here to find your voting location in your precinct.

Click here for a sample ballot.

Need help?
Call the Election Information Line at 713-755-6965
Call my office at 512-463-0524
Click here for FAQs.

I encourage you to vote straight ticket Democratic,
except for County Judge.
Vote to re-elect County Judge Ed Emmett.

I support Judge Ed Emmett because he has supported coverage expansion under the ACA, led the way in securing support for $2.5 billion for flood infrastructure bonds, has supported my effort to transform Riverside Hospital into an integrated health care facility, and has been a leader in mental health jail diversion through the creation of the Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center. Please click here for the Houston Chronicle’s editorial endorsing Judge Ed Emmett.

Click here to read Rep. Coleman’s accomplishments from the last legislative session.

Click here to read Rep. Coleman’s accomplishments from the last few legislative sessions.


I’m proud to announce that I have just received an endorsement from Attorney General Eric Holder, who served during the Obama administration, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee! Thank you for the support. I won’t stop fighting until we get fairly-drawn district maps!

I would like to thank all of the groups and elected officials who have endorsed me for re-election. Please see below for a complete list.

Houston Chronicle
Texas Hospital Association PAC
Texas State Teachers Association
American Federation of Teachers
Houston GLBT Political Caucus PAC
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC

Houston Police Officers’ Union PAC
Texas Farm Bureau
Texas Medical Association (TEXPAC)
Texas Health Care Association
National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter
Sierra Club’s Lone Star Political Committee
Texas Apartment Association
Greater Houston Builders Association Home PAC
Texas Ophthalmological Association (EYE-PAC)
Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN)
Houston Black American Democrats
Texas Coalition of Black Democrats – Harris County
Harris County Tejano Democrats
Area 5 Democrats
Harris County Young Democrats
Houston Stonewall Young Democrats
Bay Area New Democrats

From left to right: Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston), Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont), Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston), Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), Sen. Boris Miles (D-Houston)

Elected Officials
Rep. Senfronia Thompson
State Sen. John Whitmire
Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Jessica Farrar
Rep. Joe Deshotel
Rep. Alma Allen
Rep. Hubert Vo
Rep. Ana Hernandez
State Sen. Borris Miles
Rep. Armando Walle
Rep. Carol Alvarado
Rep. Gene Wu
Rep. Ron Reynolds
Rep. Mary Ann Perez
State Sen. Sylvia Garcia
Rep. Shawn Thierry
Rep. Eric Johnson

Open Enrollment for 2019 Healthcare Coverage: Now through December 15th

How to Sign Up:

  • Starting November 1st, you can log in to HealthCare.gov and fill out an application enrolling in a 2019 Marketplace health plan
  • Enroll by December 15, 2018
  • Coverage starts January 1, 2019

Helpful Links:

Need Help? Call 1-800-318-2596

You’re Invited: “In a Different Voice – Act II” with Renowned Psychologist Carol Gilligan at University of Houston

Renowned feminist, ethicist, and psychologist Carol Gilligan will be speaking at the University of Houston on November 8, 2018 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.

Gilligan is probably best known for her 1982 classic work on women’s morality: In a Different Voice. Her recent work has focused on the patriarchal roots of injustice including The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future, Joining the Resistance, and Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistance. Her lecture, entitled “In a Different Voice: Act II,” will explore how straight men, including Spike Lee, have taken up and developed some of the main themes from In a Different Voice in a series of recent movies.

               The lecture is free and open to the public.

Who: Carol Gilligan
What: Lecture – “In a Different Voice – Act II”
When: November 8, 2018, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.
Where: The University of Houston, Rockwell Pavilion in the MD Anderson Library

               Click here for more information.

What To Watch This Week:
Why health care has become a top issue for voters in deep red states

Our video of the week is from PBS News Hour. Watch below, or click here.

Polls show health care is one of the top issues for Americans this year. In heavily Republican Idaho, where state lawmakers haven’t expanded Medicaid coverage, voters petitioned to put the measure on the ballot. In partnership with Politico, John Yang reports on what expansion would mean for the thousands of residents earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little for ACA subsidies.”

PBS NewsHour:
“Why health care has become a top issue for voters in deep red states”



Cartoon of the Week

Source: John Darkow  | Copyright 2018 | Cagle Cartoons

Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “Funky President (People It’s Bad)”
by James Brown.

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