Making public education an after-thought


I am not sure how I got on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s mailing list. Maybe it’s someone’s idea of “blessing” my day with a guaranteed dose of annoyance, but nevertheless at least once a week I get a “Dear Clay” email from Dan, the man who would drive Texas anywhere but forward.

In his latest message, which plopped into my email account over the weekend, the lieutenant governor bragged about the Senate’s passage last week of a state budget bill that shortchanges education and other critical public services while leaving billions of taxpayer dollars sitting in the bank.

And here, in order, is what Patrick likes best about that bill:

# $4.5 billion in business and property tax cuts that most consumers will barely notice;

# what he calls an “historic level of border security funding” that, in reality, has almost nothing to do with security and everything to do Patrick’s ideological insistence on ignoring the reality of Texas’ changing demographics — and Texas’ future needs;

# $4.9 billion in additional transportation funding; and

# almost as an after-thought, an additional $1.5 billion in education funding, about half of what the Texas House proposes in its budget bill and far less than what our public schools actually need. Also, the Senate education appropriation is money generated by higher local property values, not raised by state taxes.

The lieutenant governor also bragged about the Senate’s approval of a so-called parent trigger bill, which would make it easier to hand neighborhood schools over to for-profit management organizations but, in reality, do nothing to increase parental involvement or improve neighborhood schools.

Patrick, who likes to close his emails with a Bible verse, chose Matthew 20:26 for this one: “For those who offer to lead they must first be servants.”

The only place Patrick is trying to lead Texas is over a cliff.





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