San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is speaking tonight as the first Hispanic keynote speaker at a Democratic convention. There are plenty of good profiles documenting Castro’s personal backstory and rise in politics, but here’s a quick primer on his policy side.
1) He’s an adamant supporter of NAFTA: San Antonio has been described as “the hub of NAFTA,” and Castro credits the agreement for his city’s prosperity, as BusinessWire recently reported. ”Since the signing of NAFTA, San Antonio has blossomed into a major center of trade in the 21st century global economy,” Castro said last month, announcing the decision to hold a 20th-anniversary summit for NAFTA in San Antonio. “This summit will honor those who helped forge this critical agreement as well as help stimulate new economic opportunities and partnerships throughout North America.”
2) He wants to raise taxes to fund Pre-K programs: Castro is pushing a November ballot initiative to raise revenue for full-day pre-kindergarten education for four-year-olds in San Antonio through a 1/8-cent sales tax, along with other state and federal money. The initiative is meant to counterbalance major state-level cuts to education.
3) He’s launched a 10-year civic improvement and development plan for San Antonio based on community input: Castro mapped out the city’s goals for downtown development, education, transportation and other priorities by drawing on ideas from “community meetings that drew almost 6,000 residents,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The City Council formally endorsed the initiative, known as SA 2020, which other Texas cities like Austin are trying to replicate.
4) Under Castro’s leadership, San Antonio kept a balanced budget and its AAA credit rating during the downturn: “San Antonio has weathered the economic downturn by passing a series of balanced budgets that have required no layoffs or property tax increases,” the San Antonio Business Journal wrote in December. “San Antonio is also the only city among the Top 10 largest cities to have a AAA bond rating with all three major rating agencies.”
5) He believes that government spending can fuel growth: Derek Thompson spoke to Castro in 2010 about the reasons why San Antonio was America’s most “recession-proof city.” He pointed to three factors underpinning its resilience: “The first is the health care and the bio sciences, which have a $16 billion impact on the local economy. The second is education….Because we have such a young population, the education sector is not only business, but big business. The third is government investment. We still have several military installations.”