A new political action committee working in Austin seeks to promote the interests of Hispanics statewide and motivate them to turn out in elections.
Three Rio Grande Valley state representatives committed $5,000 each Friday toward One Texas, a PAC formed last month to elect Latinos into the state House and engage Hispanics in confronting the state's challenges.
The state's "looming human and resource infrastructure crisis" will affect more Hispanics as they approach majority status in Texas, said State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who started the PAC with a $50,000 contribution from his campaign. But Hispanics, who composed 38 percent of the state's population in 2010, are also equipped to find solutions that help middle and working class families.
Martinez Fischer said the state's reluctance to spend for transportation, energy and water projects -- on top of bread-and-butter issues like health care and education -- will eventually lead to more engagement from Hispanics, who traditionally vote Democratic but rarely turn out in high numbers.
"When voters understand this, they're going to want leaders who can fix these problems," Martinez Fischer said. "Because our state is becoming increasingly Hispanic, there will be an expectation that this will become problems to be solved by the growing, emerging Hispanic leadership."
State Reps. Sergio Munoz Jr., D-Palmview; Armando "Mando" Martinez, D-Weslaco; and Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, announced their contributions Friday in McAllen. Since its formation, One Texas has received more than $100,000 in contributions from Hispanic leaders in the Texas House.
While One Texas promotes electing Hispanic candidates to the Texas House, the PAC's mission will largely tie it to Democrats who support increased spending. Both Democrats and Republicans have actively worked to attract Hispanics to their respective parties.
But Lucio said the GOP's unwillingness to spend on water resources, education or transportation is hurting the state's growing minority population.
"We still have such low voter turnout, it's not a general consensus but a small vocal minority deciding elections," he said. It won't be until "we change that dynamic and have a majority of Texans who all come to the table" that "we'll start seeing more of what Texans want."
Although One Texas will contribute directly to the campaigns of Texas House candidates this fall, Munoz said the PAC will also direct a voter outreach campaign intended to get voters to the polls. Mando Martinez said its emphasis on issues directly affecting Hispanics will mobilize more voters.
"The focus is on issues that are important to us that we can no longer leave on the table for manana," he said. "These are issues that affect us today. We need to act on them now."
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