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Davis at TribFest

Wendy Davis expands on some debate topics and other campaign issues at the Texas Tribune’s TribFest.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

If elected governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis would consider using “executive action” to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act in the face of likely opposition from a Republican-dominated state Legislature, she said Saturday in a wide-ranging interview at The Texas Tribune Festival.

“There’s some indication that an executive action can achieve this,” Davis told Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith. “Sometimes you have to do hard things when they’re the right things.”

Had Texas expanded Medicaid to cover more adults under federal health care reform, the federal government would have covered 100 percent of the cost for three years, eventually reducing its coverage to 90 percent. Davis criticized Republicans’ opposition to the offer, which she noted was projected to create as many as 300,000 jobs in the state.

“Once again, we’ve got people who are more interested in partisan rhetoric than being leaders for our state,” Davis said.

Davis spoke at length during the hourlong interview with Smith about her plans if she wins her race against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. She singled out two bills — a repeal of the state’s in-state tuition law for illegal immigrants and an “Arizona-style” immigration bill banning sanctuary cities — as measures she would veto if they reached her desk as governor.

Of the in-state tuition repeal, which has strong support among Republicans in the Texas Senate, Davis said she’d “veto it in a heartbeat.”

Given the Legislature’s likely makeup next year, Davis said she was pessimistic that a measure to repeal the abortion restrictions she filibustered last year would ever make it to her desk, though she would sign it if it did. She said it was the same case for a bill that would put the state’s redistricting process under an independent commission,

Smith began the interview asking Davis about Friday’s televised debate with Abbott. He questioned why she didn’t respond to Abbott when he asked her at the debate if she regrets voting for President Obama.

“No, I don’t regret it,” Davis said. She suggested that she didn’t answer Abbott’s question at the time because she thought it wasn’t valid in the “context” of a gubernatorial debate.

“I thought it was striking that when he had the one opportunity to ask me a question, instead of asking me who I would be as governor, he asked me who I voted for for president,” Davis said.

I seem to recall that the Lege passed a bill saying that their approval was needed for any kind of Medicaid expansion, but I could be wrong about that. That said, I’m glad to see Davis make clear her support for Medicaid expansion in this fashion, and I’m glad to see her draw lines in the sand about the Texas DREAM Act and the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill. Good policy all around, and sure to be heartening to the people Davis will need to get out and vote in November. As for her answer about voting for President Obama, I’m sure some people would have liked her to have been more clear about what she meant, but sometimes in the heat of the moment you don’t quite say everything you mean to. At least there will be one more debate opportunity to tackle the question if it comes up again, and it’s not like Davis is going to be going into a rabbit hole anytime soon. Honestly, though, I don’t think there’s anything more to this at this point.

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