Dan Patrick

Do we need more Dan Patricks? Dan thinks so.


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick went on an ideological rant yesterday (imagine that) at an event hosted by the pro-voucher, pro-privatization Texas Public Policy Foundation. His apparent point, if you want to call it that, was that all Republican officeholders need to be like him. If that thought doesn’t keep any self-respecting adult awake at night, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, according to The Texas Tribune, Patrick also said there was “so much left to do” in Texas about education, property taxes and infrastructure. He’s right about this, but what he won’t admit is that he is the problem, not the solution. There’s a lot left to do on education and other basic public issues because he and his allies, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have been wasting the taxpayers’ time in Austin not doing what needs to be done.

It is time to elect new state leadership that will quit ranting, quit chasing vouchers and other ideological rip-offs and actually address the real needs of public education and taxpayers.

Vote Education First!


Abbott’s tax plan disaster is another reason to Vote Education First


For now, Gov. Abbott’s latest property tax proposal is little more than a campaign pitch. But it raises the stakes on this year’s elections because if the governor were to muster enough legislative votes to enact something like this, it would be a disaster for a host of important local services, beginning with public schools.

If you are paying high property taxes – and many Texans are – the primary culprits are Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their legislative allies, not your local school board, your county commissioners court or your city council. And here is why.

The main reason local property taxes continue to increase is because the state refuses to adequately fund public education, and the situtation has grown worse under Abbott and Patrick’s watch. No amount of denial or attempted buck-passing from Abbott or Patrick is going to change that fact.

In 2014, the year Abbott and Patrick were elected to their current jobs, the state paid 45 percent of the Foundation School Program, and local property taxpayers paid 55 percent, according to the Legislative Budget Board. This year, the state’s share has dropped to 40 percent, while property taxpayers have seen their share increase to 60 percent. Next year, the state’s share is expected to decline even further to 38 percent, while local taxpayers will be paying 62 percent. Meanwhile,enrollment in Texas public schools will continue to increase by more than 80,000 students every year.

The state paid $2,555 less than the national average per student in 2016-17, ranking Texas 36th among the states and the District of Columbia in that important category.

Two times last year, once during the regular session and again in the summer special session, Speaker Joe Straus and the House approved legislation to increase state funding. But each time, Patrick, aided and abetted by Abbott, led the Senate to reject the House plan in favor of ripping off state tax dollars for private school vouchers.

Now, as he did last year, Abbott proposes clamping down on the ability of local governments to raise property taxes to pay for needed services. This proposal, however, is worse. It would place a 2.5 percent cap on annual revenue growth from property taxes and, this time, it would apply to school districts as well as cities, counties and other local governments.

It would lead to a reduction in critical local services, particularly in fast-growth areas, and it would worsen the plight of already under-funded school districts, forcing cuts in instructional programs as school enrollments climb.

Abbott made vague references about exceptions for law enforcement and teacher pay raises, and he said his plan may require the state to increase its share of education funding. But he offered no state funding plan, and he has a history of fighting against school finance improvements. As TSTA President Noel Candelaria has pointed out, the governor needs to “show us the money.”

Instead, Abbott is more likely to use his anti-government, anti-public education allies to try to force Republican legislators and legislative candidates to pledge their support of Abbott’s plan in the Republican primary, where many critical legislative races will be decided.

It will require political courage for some Republican candidates who truly value their public schools to defy the governor and his well-funded allies, and that makes it essential for educators to make an adequately funded public education system their top voting priority. Vote Education First!

Remember, elections have consequences, and not only in the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices. With Straus’ decision to retire, the election of a new speaker is at stake in the House elections. Under Straus’ leadership, the House tried to increase education funding last year and has repeatedly shut the door on private school vouchers.

The upcoming elections, beginning with the party primaries, will determine what kind of speaker succeeds Straus and whether this half-baked proposal by the governor will become law.

“We must rein in property tax growth,” Abbott said.

Let’s do it, governor. But let’s do it the right way, with more state education funding. Tell the governor that – with your votes.




It is time for Trump’s enablers and apologists to call him out


If any school kid had been overheard speaking half the trashy, racially-tinged remarks that President Trump makes headlines with, the child would have been suspended or transferred to an alternative, disciplinary campus. Unfortunately, there is no alternative White House. We are stuck with the occupant of the real Oval Office for the foreseeable future.

We also are stuck for the time being with a bunch of alleged political “leaders” in Texas who helped elect Trump and refuse to call him out when he uses his foul mouth to insult much of the world’s population as well as millions of American citizens –people of color – whom he purports to serve.

You can argue about whether the president of the United States is a racist, but there is no doubt that he is appealing to racists, and that’s a pretty thin distinction. Racists alone didn’t elect Trump, but they helped. He knows that, and he is counting on their support in 2020, if he is still a  viable candidate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a prominent member of the president’s adopted party, publicly and forcefully admonished Trump after the president’s trashy, demeaning remarks last week about Haiti, African countries and the people who live there.

There also may have been one or two other Republican members of the Senate who expressed their disapproval, but they weren’t the two U.S. senators from Texas, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, who have remained mum about the ill-prepared, uninformed and insensitive president they continue to help prop up.

The silence from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who – like Cruz – are up for reelection this year, also has been noticeable. What kind of role models are they for Texas school children? We encourage kids to stand up to bullies. Should we expect any less from their alleged political leaders?

These are the same “leaders” who seem intent on dictating their version of morality to their constituents, to the dereliction of their real duties. Who can forget, for example, that Abbott and Patrick would rather tell school kids which bathroom they can use than provide enough funding to give all Texas children the educational opportunities they need.

Their morality meddling, however, doesn’t extend to the president. They refuse to call him out. Perhaps they don’t want to offend any of the president’s supporters, including the race-baiters they should be offending, because they don’t want to lose anyone’s vote, including a race-baiter’s.

Like all the other enablers and apologists for Trump, they also prefer power over decency, and power doesn’t require decency.

It is shameful.



Abbott, Patrick trying to hide their true, anti-education colors


As I hope most of you have figured out by now, neither Gov. Greg Abbott nor Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has any intention of raising teacher pay or retiree benefits during the special legislative session because neither is proposing any increase in education funding. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Abbott and Patrick have three education-related goals this session, which may prove to be one of the meanest gatherings of the Texas Legislature in recent memory. All three are bad news, and none has anything to do with teacher pay.

First, they want to ridicule and bully transgender students and educators with the discriminatory, divisive and unnecessary bathroom bill. Second, they want to peddle the voucher scam again. And, finally, they will try once more to weaken the political influence of teachers over education policy with a dues deduction bill to thwart the right of educators to spend their modest paychecks – their own money — the way they see fit.

The governor and the lieutenant governor concocted their eleventh-hour “pay raise” schemes for a reason. They are trying to cover their bankrupt public education records on the eve of reelection campaigns in which both will be trying again to fool parents and educators into thinking they actually give a rat’s tail about public schools or the people who work in them.

There are genuine teacher pay raise proposals on the horizon, proposals that actually would use state funds to boost teacher pay. Some legislators believe the state should tap into the Rainy Day Fund to pay for it.

The Rainy Day money is there, more than $10 billion, according to the state comptroller. That’s enough to cover a teacher pay raise, health care improvements and other critical public needs that Abbott and Patrick have persisted in ignoring.

The Rainy Day Fund is a state savings account that was intended to meet emergencies, and school finance, including teacher pay, is a growing emergency. But Abbott and Patrick want to keep your tax money bottled up to use as ideological bragging rights with voters who want to shrink government and privatize education.

Speaker Joe Straus recognizes the importance of increasing public education funding. Straus also opposes the bathroom bill and already is under attack from the Abbott and Patrick camps.

Getting a teacher pay raise or any additional education funding out of this special session will be difficult. If it happens, the push will come from Straus and the House, not from Abbott and Patrick.