WFAA-TV caught Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doing what he does best, which isn’t representing the best interests of school kids, educators and other Texans. What Dan does best is being hypocritical, and in this case he was publicly berating a Republican county judge who is simply trying to provide necessary public services to the people who live in his South Texas county – something Patrick doesn’t really care about.
Patrick, in his patented demagogic fashion, lectured the judge for testifying at a Senate committee hearing in Arlington that he needed to temporarily raise local property taxes to replace revenue lost to dropping oil prices. Rural Atascosa County, which the judge represents, was heavily dependent on oil production, which has been drastically curtailed. And now public services – including the local sheriff’s department, jail and courts – are running low on money, the judge explained.
But our lieutenant governor did not express concern that the county judge needs to make sure local law enforcement has the funds to protect and serve his community. Patrick instead is on a crusade – he has been ever since he was a showboating talk radio host in Houston years ago – to strictly restrict how much cities, counties and school districts can increase property taxes. The idea perhaps would be easier for local officials to take if Patrick also had the desire to offer better financial support from Austin, but he doesn’t. In fact, he has a history of reducing support from Austin.
As a state senator, for example, Patrick voted to cut $5.4 billion from public school budgets in 2011 and voted against the entire state budget (including all state funding for school districts, counties and other local governments) in 2013. And one of his top priorities during his first session as lieutenant governor last year was to reduce state business taxes, while public schools and other important state needs remain under-funded.
The county judge wasn’t the only recent victim of Patrick’s hypocrisy. The lieutenant governor also has been lambasting university regents for raising tuition, even though universities say higher tuition is necessary to fill shortages in appropriations from Patrick and his colleagues in the legislative majority.
Patrick is a showman, but Texas needs more than that in the state’s second highest office.