As the debates in the Lone Star state heat up, it can get confusing to separate the political rhetoric from the candidates’ actual stand on the issues. To help you sort through the muck, ASJ has created the following table to highlight the differences — and similarities — between the candidates’ platforms on the issues that matter most to your business.

Candidates

Bill White

Kathie Glass

Rick Perry

Political background and affiliation

Democrat; Former mayor of Houston

Libertarian; Houston lawyer, previous candidate for Texas Attorney General

Republican; Incumbent governor, two terms running

Health care

Wants to expand enrollment in existing programs such as CHIP and Medicaid, expand community health centers, and develop a new three-share program similar to the one he used in Houston. Under the program, employers, employees, and public/private partnership funding would each contribute to the cost of affordable premiums for basic care. Also plans to develop solutions in the small employer market such as increasing transparency, setting minimum medical loss ratios, and adopting community rating.

Plans to opt-out of Medicaid because of the high cost of the program, and push the savings toward health care services decided by the state.

Under Gov. Perry, Texas has increased health care investments by more than $20 billion while promoting prevention and wellness programs. Perry also led a sweeping lawsuit reform, cracking down on asbestos claims and medical malpractice lawsuits.

Insurance rates

From Bill White’s website: “Texans have the highest rates of homeowners’ insurance in the nation. In Texas, the Governor appoints an Insurance Commissioner responsible for guarding homeowner’s, auto, and health insurance rates. I will choose appointees who will serve the people of Texas, who will attract a competitive group of firms offering more competitive rates.” [Note from ASJ: Texas rates are actually 76 percent higher than the national average, and Texans pay the second-highest, not the highest, home insurance premiums in the country.]

No known platform.

Signed a file-and-use regulation into law, and has spoken in favor of it. The file-and-use procedure allows insurance companies to file notice of higher rates and begin collecting them immediately before the state insurance commission justifies the increase. However, Perry didn’t “push” for the increase, as White claims, and according to KERA, who fact-checked with the NAIC, Texas homeowner premiums have not risen as dramatically as premiums in some other states.

Business taxes

No known platform, though he has spoken out against aspects of Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund.

Plans to eliminate the franchise tax, which can act as a personal income tax on owners of small business.

During the 81st Legislature, Perry signed HB 4765, which exempts small businesses with less than $1 million in gross revenues from the state’s franchise tax, up from $300,000. However, the state’s unemployment tax on business nearly doubled this year, and Perry refused $550 million in federal stimulus money for the unemployment fund to help offset the tax hike. Perry said there were too many strings attached to the money to make it worthwhile. Perry diverted money from the state unemployment fund to his business-subsidy program, the Texas Enterprise Fund. Perry has held up the Enterprise Fund as an example of job creation under his administration, but two-thirds of the companies given taxpayer money have failed to meet their promises last year.

Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal. She can be reached at 800-933-9449 ext. 225 or HTrese@AgentMedia.com.