No sooner had the special legislative session come to a merciful end than the nanny-nanny-boo-boo duet started whining. That would be Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Call it a trio if you want to throw in Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Patrick clone who also wailed away the session’s demise.
The Legislature had adjourned, but kindergarten was still in class.
All three were upset that the House majority, led by the adult in the room, Speaker Joe Straus, had killed a large chunk of Abbott’s and Patrick’s right-wing session agenda, including the despicable bathroom bill, private school vouchers and several undemocratic proposals that sought to impose their own ideological will over the local control decisions of city governments.
They also whined, of course, about the failure to pass an alleged property tax “relief” bill, Senate Bill 1, which the governor had designated his top priority of the session. Senate Bill 1, however, was a hoax. It wouldn’t have cut anyone’s taxes by a dime. Abbott knew that, Patrick knew that and so did Bettencourt. But they still are trying to mislead Texans.
All the bill would have done would have put tighter, arbitrary limits on the abilities of locally elected city and county officials to raise the revenue necessary to hire police officers and firefighters, ensure clean water and provide other essential public services that Texans depend upon every day.
The Legislature did have an opportunity to actually lower property taxes during the session, and Straus and the House majority tried to do that by passing a bill to increase state funding for public schools by $1.8 billion. Increasing state funding for education is the only way to lower property taxes in Texas because property taxes now account for most of the money used to support public schools, a fact that Abbott, Patrick and their allies continue to ignore. Patrick’s Senate allies gutted the House bill.
The state now pays only 38 percent of the public education budget, and that figure will continue to fall as long as Abbott and Patrick et al continue to pass the buck and ignore their constitutional responsibility to adequately and equitably pay for public education.
Bettencourt, the SB1 sponsor, predicted Texas taxpayers will be “furious” over the bill’s failure. He, Abbott and Patrick blamed the House and Straus, which offered the Senate a watered-down version of SB1 that Patrick found objectionable.
Most taxpayers, at least those who are paying attention, are beginning to recognize the Abbott-Patrick-Bettencourt ruse for what it is, a way to pass the blame for their own failures. All taxpayers have every reason to be furious about that.
Abbott and Patrick are lashing out at Straus with the obvious intent to paint a right-wing target on him in next year’s Republican primary. Texas can ill-afford to lose Straus as speaker, but Abbott and Patrick obviously are more interested in advancing their own ideological agenda than strengthening Texas’ future.
“Elections matter,” Abbott said.
They certainly do. And that’s why Texans now have a governor and a Senate majority that continue to neglect school children, educators and taxpayers. Voters need to start doing better.