FORT WORTH -- There's more to the battle for Texas Senate District 10 than attack ads and accusations.By the end of the day Nov. 6, local voters will have chosen either state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, or her challenger, state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, to represent the district in the Texas Senate next year.And many of those voters have made it clear that they're looking beyond the attacks to where the candidates stand on the issues. They have sharply different views on the state budget: Davis is focused on restoring education funding, and Shelton wants to control government spending.As the candidates head to their third debate tonight, we offer a look at where Davis, an attorney, and Shelton, a pediatrician, stand on a few issues, based on statements in recent debates. The district includes parts of Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, Colleyville, and other areas of south and Northeast Tarrant County.STATE BUDGET:Wendy Davis: "I voted against Rick Perry's budget. It wasn't a balanced budget and it wasn't an honest product in terms of what it conveyed to the community about being balanced. First of all, it certainly wasn't listening to people in Tarrant County who were fighting, along with schools all across Texas and families across Texas, saying, 'We don't want you to cut $5.5 billion from our public schools.' ... If the concern is making sure we're keep our economy strong and healthy ... that budget certainly didn't do it."Mark Shelton: "The people of Senate District 10 really want us to be financially responsible in Austin. I voted for a balanced budget without raising taxes. In these economic times, with high unemployment and businesses in a lot of distress, it's important we keep our regulations and our taxes low."EDUCATION FUNDING: When asked whether they would try to restore some of the funding stripped from public schools during the last legislative session: Wendy Davis: "Do we need to restore that funding? You bet. ... [And] we've got to figure out how we are going to catch up to student population growth funding going forward."Mark Shelton: "Long term, the way we fund our schools is having businesses grow and increasing the revenues. ... We are in rough economic times and controlling state spending is the No. 1 priority for constituents at this time."HEALTHCARE: When asked about expanding Medicaid, starting medical exchanges, accepting an estimated $100 billion from the federal government or turning toward block grants:Wendy Davis: "One opportunity is a Medicaid expansion which would put approximately $100 billion into the state of Texas over the next 10 years. We know we have a terrible problem with health insurance in the state of Texas. One out of every 4 citizens doesn't have health insurance. ... As a consequence, the uninsured are seeking their care in the highest-cost place -- the emergency rooms. ... I believe it's a wise investment for us to bring those [federal] resources here to Texas." She added that if the federal money is turned away, it could mean higher county taxes and higher insurance rates. If Texas forfeits the money, she said, the state would essentially be subsidizing healthcare in other states.Mark Shelton: "I'm a physician. No one cares more about healthcare than I do. ... The promise of Obamacare was that 47 million people in the United States are going to have health insurance, but the reality is ... only 17 million of them will have it ... and 10 million [more] are going to be put on a dysfunctional Medicaid. ... It is a tax increase and everybody in this room will feel it in January." He added that he would not want Texas to accept the federal money. "In the short term, it might be OK, but long term, it's not a good deal."STATEWIDE PROPERTY TAX:Wendy Davis: "I won't support that."Mark Shelton: "No."UNEMPLOYMENT: When asked about Texas' unemployment rate and how to spur job growth:Wendy Davis: "We need to start thinking about investing in the future of the state of Texas: Invest in public education, increase graduation rates, make college affordable ... so we grow a workforce."Mark Shelton: "We have to have fair and predictable taxes."ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT: When asked about the balancing act of protecting the environment and supporting new energy sources: Wendy Davis: "In Tarrant County, we have a very serious problem with children's asthma -- children in Tarrant County have a 25 percent asthma rate" compared with a statewide 7 percent rate. She said she has supported new air monitors and green completion of wells. "There is a balance to be struck with industry, quality of life, safety."Mark Shelton: "The oil and gas industry is one of the most important industries in the state. It produces revenue ... (for) schools. ... I'm in favor of expanding the industry in a reasonable way. Many of the claims against these industries have been false."
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, have their third debate at 7 tonight at TCU's Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center ballroom, 2820 Stadium Drive. The debate is free, open to the public and scheduled to last 90 minutes. Seating begins at 6:45 p.m. The debate is hosted by the TCU Forensics Team, which competes in public-speaking and debate events.