A lifelong resident of House District 118, Joe Farias has a proven record of service to his community and his country. A graduate of McCollum High School, Joe volunteered for the US Army in 1968 and served for three years, from Vietnam to Berlin, Germany. His time in the military taught Joe the values of loyalty, integrity, and service.
When Joe returned, he went straight to work at City Public Service, San Antonio’s local public utility, working his way up from a novice machinist to implementing and supervising CPS’ technical training section. After 32 years, Joe retired from CPS in 2003.
Over the past 37 years, Joe has served his community in a variety of ways. From coaching little league to hosting barbecue plate fundraisers for the most needy in his community to serving on the Harlandale ISD School Board and the San Antonio Zoning Commission, Joe strongly believes in giving back to the community that has given him so much.
As a school board member, Joe stood up time after time for our children, teachers, and the classrooms where they learn and teach. Joe took the tough votes and always put our children first. Joe worked hard to make sure that Harlandale’s budget was spent wisely and not wastefully. Joe demanded accountability, and he fought to ensure all kids receive a quality education, especially those with special education needs, even as Harlandale struggled with scandal. In addition to serving on the Harlandale ISD school board for three terms, Joe also served on the St. Leo’s Catholic School Board.
Joe’s first term as a Texas State Representative was distinguished by his fight on behalf of working families. Joe fought for bipartisan legislation that would cap the interest rates of predatory payday loans for members of the Armed Forces and their families. Joe introduced legislation that would reverse the harsh cuts to the CHIP program from 2003. Language from that bill was incorporated into the successful bipartisan bill that has put over 150,000 more kids on the CHIP rolls. Joe passed a bill that would study how Texas can better implement a wildly successful program that brings down juvenile crime. In recognition of his hard work during his first term, Joe’s colleagues in the Mexican American Legislative Caucus voted him Freshman of the Year.
During his second legislative session, Joe continued his work fighting predatory lending by leading a coalition of fellow House members and consumer rights advocates in an effort to regulate the payday lending industry in Texas. He passed legislation that will inform the 25% of working Texas families who fail to claim their federal Earned Income Tax Credit that they may qualify to receive nearly $5,000 in entitled assistance. Joe created and chaired the Texas Veterans Caucus - an organization of legislators (House and Senate) who are themselves veterans, and who work together to advocate for pro-veteran legislation. With the help of the Veterans Caucus, Joe was able to expand benefits offered under the Hazelwood Act - the waiver of college tuition - to spouses of veterans who were killed in action, or who are completely disabled because of a service-connected injury. Finally, Joe was a leader in the legislative effort to recognize Texas A&M University - San Antonio as a standalone campus, and helped it secure $40,000,000 for the construction of its first building.
During his third legislative session, those in control of writing the appropriations bill ended up cutting at least $15 billion from the budget and $4 billion from public education. That kind of damage kills Pre-Kindergarten, advanced math and science classes, and art and music classes. It also ignores the 160,000 new kids who will enroll in Texas schools in the next two years.
Texas elderly will not be happy to see the funding for their nursing homes cut. As a result of decisions made by those in control of writing the budget, those seniors may lose the chance for community-based care, even though it would save money for taxpayers, and even if they’ve been on the waiting list for a year.
For all of these reasons, Joe could not vote for the budget. While he did not support the budget this past session, he was able to pass several pieces of legislation to help our veterans, school children, and rural communities. One of the many important pieces of legislation that he passed included a bill that will save the state's Medicaid program approximately $18 million in just seven years by enrolling roughly 5,600 veterans and their families in federal benefit programs. Joe also passed House Bill 2928 which would allow veterans who have the Silver Star Medal license plate to receive the same privileges as other military medal recipients.
Joe also authored and passed House Resolution 1694 applauding President Obama, the U.S. intelligence community and the armed forces for killing Osama Bin Laden. The resolution also commends the intelligence personnel and the armed forces of “heroically carried out an incredibly sensitive mission with no military losses and with a minimal loss of civilian lives." Copies of the resolution have been sent to the president, speaker of the U.S. House, governor of Texas, members of the Texas congressional delegation and entered into the Congressional Record.
Joe is fighting for an agenda that rewards hard work, meets our obligation to those most in need, and gives every child an equal chance to succeed. For the last 37 years, Joe Farias has been married to his high school sweetheart, Angie, and they have four grown sons - Gabe, Joey, Jaime and Daniel.