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Home | Tag Archives: dan patrick

Tag Archives: dan patrick

Analysis: Beware of Texas politicians bearing home-brewed arithmetic

If you look at his campaign missives, it’s clear that the state’s lieutenant governor — or maybe it’s his staff — can’t reconcile his math with his politics.

Dan Patrick complains that spending in “many” cities and counties has been growing at 7% or more per year. And later on, he tries to debunk reports that the state budget went up by more than twice that amount:

“There has been a great deal of misinformation about the growth in the Texas state budget this session bolstered by early reports from the Legislative Budget Board and TPPF [the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank] suggesting the budget increased three or four times more than it actually did. You may have seen e-mails or articles on conservative blogs and news sites this summer that we increased spending this year 12-14%. That was just incorrect,” he wrote.

“After adjusting for almost $19 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery, which was predominately federal funds, and nearly $6 billion in cuts for taxpayers, annual growth in the 2020-21 budget will be 2.5% — well below the conservative goal of population increase times the rate of inflation.”

Budgets always look better if you don’t include all of the money you’re spending. The bottom-line numbers are right there to see. At the end of this legislative session, the House and Senate passed, and the governor signed, a two-year budget totaling $250.6 billion. At the same time two years earlier, the final budget totaled $216.6 billion.

That’s an increase of 15.7%.

Patrick doesn’t want to count $26 billion of the increase, but the budget numbers are clear, and arithmetic doesn’t care about your politics. Besides, he’s still counting most of the federal spending in the current budget, which amounts to $86.4 billion.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

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Dan Patrick threatens to use “nuclear option” to skirt Senate tradition and bring property tax bill to the floor

Faced with a stalemate on his priority property tax proposal, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Friday that if no deal materializes over the weekend, he plans to take the “nuclear option” on Monday and force a vote — blowing past Senate tradition to bring up the bill with a simple majority instead of the three-fifths vote typically required in the upper chamber.

For months, Patrick and his lieutenants have struggled to pass Senate Bill 2, a sweeping reform measure that would require cities, counties and school districts to seek voter approval for any tax levy increases of more than 2.5 percent in a given year, not including new growth. Needing 19 votes to bring the measure to the floor, and having, he said, 18 of 19 Republican votes in the upper chamber, Patrick had to watch the bill stall for more than two months after it was filed.

“I respect our Senate rules, but I do not intend to let a procedural motion stop the Senate from passing this important bill. If using the so-called ‘nuclear option’ is the only choice left to me to pass meaningful and lasting property tax reform and relief on Monday, as Lt. Governor I will lead as the public expects me to lead and exercise that option,” Patrick said in a statement to The Texas Tribune on Friday. “The public doesn’t care about our procedural rules. They want tax relief and they deserve it. Time is running out on our session.”

Traditionally, the upper chamber starts the session by passing what’s called a “blocker bill” — a bill that sits ahead of any other priorities on the Senate’s ordered agenda so that bringing up anything other measure ahead of it requires a three-fifths vote, or 19 senators in support if all 31 are on the floor. Passing that bill would allow Patrick to bring a measure to the floor with a simple majority of senators, just 16.

The “blocker bill” tradition dates back at least to the 1950s.

It wouldn’t be the first time Patrick upended tradition to grease the skids in the chamber he’s led since 2015. That year, in his first term as lieutenant governor, Patrick lowered the threshold from two-thirds to three-fifths, allowing the chamber’s Republicans to bring legislation to the floor without support from any Democrats.

Senate Bill 2, along with an identical House Bill 2, was filed in January after the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House declared a united front in addressing property tax reform this session. But since then, facing opposition from local officials who argue the 2.5 percent election trigger is too low to accommodate their budgeting needs, it stalled in the Senate, passing the upper chamber’s property tax committee in February but not coming to the floor for a vote.

Meanwhile, in the House, the once-identical bill was overhauled in committee to carve out school districts, a change that has drawn criticism from some of the lower chamber’s more conservative members.

The House, which seems to have been moving the measure at a faster clip, was scheduled to debate the property tax bill on Thursday, but recessed that morning amid rumors that the Senate would instead bring up its version first. After a day of private negotiations, neither chamber brought up the proposal.

On Thursday evening, Patrick had a conference call with a handful of Senate Democrats, according to several sources familiar with the call. In that call, he informed them that he intended to force a vote on Monday, as Texas Monthly first reported on Friday.

By passing the “blocker bill,” the Senate would throw out a requirement members hail as critical to the upper chamber’s deliberative tradition, and further ostracize Senate Democrats already unhappy with some of their Republican colleagues, who Democrats say “ambushed” them earlier this month with a resolution declaring the U.S.-Mexico border a “crisis.”

Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican who Patrick says has been the only Republican handout on the bill, panned the plan as a “desperate measure.” If Patrick does go ahead with the plan, he wouldn’t require support from Seliger.

“Our rules provide incentive to work together well and reach consensus and compromise. You do this when you need to run over somebody,” Seliger said. “It does not lend itself to the sort of collegiality and cooperation that we brag about and I think that’s unfortunate.”

Shannon Najmabadi contributed reporting.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: EMMA PLATOFF – The Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Dennis Bonnen Promise Unity in 2019 Legislative Session

Texas’ top three elected leaders are looking to show a united front as the 2019 legislative session begins — and start fresh after the drama of last session.

The so-called “Big Three” — Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and newly elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — punctuated the effort Wednesday morning with a joint news conference outside the Governor’s Mansion, where they swore to be in lockstep on an ambitious list of priorities for the session, including reforming school finance and property taxes.

“We are here today to send a very strong, profound and unequivocal message — that the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker are working in collaboration together on a very bold agenda that will be transformative for the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

The news conference came a day after the session began with Bonnen’s unanimous election as speaker, replacing Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican who retired. Last session, there were persistent tensions between Straus and Patrick. Patrick used the news conference to emphasize what can happen when the three officials are all on the same page.

“If the three of us are aligned that we’re going to accomplish a mission and pass legislation, it happens,” Patrick said. “And if the three of us are aligned that something isn’t going to pass, it doesn’t happen. So this is not just a message to the public and to the media, but I think our members will take note that this is really unprecedented that we’re addressing the issues beginning of session, totally united with one another.”

The triumvirate had breakfast at the mansion before the news conference, and they stressed it was hardly their first interaction. Abbott said they had met previously at the mansion, and Bonnen said the governor and lieutenant governor have been in touch with him since he announced in November that he had the votes to become speaker.

Among the issues that caused leadership headaches last session was the Patrick-championed “bathroom bill” that would have regulated which restrooms transgender people can use. Asked at the news conference about the proposal potentially coming up again — Straus had been its biggest obstacle — Patrick sought to put it in the past, reiterating comments he has previously made about winning public opinion on the issue even if the legislation did not pass.

Throughout Wednesday, Patrick expressed optimism about the Bonnen speakership. Addressing the Texas Realtors Association later Wednesday morning, Patrick said he will be having dinner with Bonnen, describing it as a “new experience with me for a speaker.” The two will not always agree, Patrick said, “but when we disagree, we’re gonna do it professionally, and it’s not gonna be on the front page.”

Also, Patrick suggested the Senate will work at a less aggressive pace this session because he no longer feels as much of a need to build pressure on House leadership.

“I’m more relaxed this session around because I feel like I have a partner on the other side I can work with,” Patrick said.

Patrick missed the first day of session Tuesday for a trip to Washington, D.C., where he helped the White House work on President Donald Trump’s primetime address to the nation on border security. Patrick said it was a “very late ask and it was a tough judgment call, but when the White House calls, you respond.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Patrick said, apparently alluding to speculation that he was in the mix for a Trump administration position. “I’m the lieutenant governor of Texas as long as I can be.”

Patrick was more emphatic later Wednesday morning while speaking to real estate agents, saying he has “not been offered a job [in the Trump administration], I’m not gonna take a job, I’m not interested in taking a job.”

“Just end the rumor,” Patrick said. “It’s crazy. It’s out of control.”

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Realtors has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Author: PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Blames City Governments for “All our Problems in America”

City governments, particularly those led by Democrats, are to blame for problems nationwide, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said during a nationally televised interview Friday.

“People are happy with their governments at their state level, they’re not with the city,” said Patrick, a Republican, in an interview with Fox Business Network. He was responding to a question about gubernatorial races.

“Our cities are still controlled by Democrats,” he added. “And where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women. That’s where you see liberal policies. That’s where you see high taxes. That’s where you see street crime.”

The comments drew a quick response from mayors in Texas. In a message posted to Twitter, Austin Mayor Steve Adler responded, “If it’s wrong to have lower jobless and crime rates than Texas as a whole, I don’t want to be right. Certainly not that far right.”

Patrick’s remarks came halfway through a special legislative session in which lawmakers have repeatedly taken aim at local governments. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has proposed to lawmakers a long list of ideas related to how cities and counties set budgets, regulate land use and approve construction projects.

Some of the most controversial bills now making their way through the Legislature would require a local election to approve property tax rate increases over a certain percentage and legislation that would regulate which bathrooms transgender people can use. Current versions of the bathroom proposal would preempt parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances that include protections for transgender people.

Many city officials have criticized the Legislature’s efforts, saying city governments need freedom and flexibility to govern.

“We are closer to our residents than the state is or the federal government, so we know what is best for our community because we are responsible for our community,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican. “Not only is El Paso the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border, we’re also ranked as the safest city in the nation.”

Mayors from two of the state’s six biggest cities are Republican: Margo, plus Betsy Price of Fort Worth.

But “the fact that city elections are nonpartisan is one of the greatest things about city government,” said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League. “We like to say that potholes aren’t Democratic or Republican… it costs the same amount regardless of ideology.” 

Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chairman, the Texas Municipal League and Dee Margo have been financial supporters of the Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price talked about their Tuesday meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott about several local control issues he put on the agenda for the special legislative session. [link]
  • Texas legislators would love to lower your property taxes, but none of the proposals they’re considering in the special session would do that. [link]
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is a former radio host who still owns a radio station in Houston. The station continues to push his conservative agenda. [link]

Author:  SHANNON NAJMABADI – The Texas Tribune

Dan Patrick Unconvinced by House Action on Bathrooms, Property Taxes

After threatening to force a special session of the Texas Legislature unless lawmakers approve a “bathroom bill” and property tax legislation, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick on Monday appeared to be unconvinced by the House’s actions on the two issues.

“I share Governor Abbott’s concern about the lack of a rollback provision in Senate Bill 669 on property taxes,” Patrick said in a statement about a property tax measure the House passed Saturday that did not include a rollback provision for local tax increases. Patrick, like Gov. Greg Abbott, had indicated he wanted the House to approve Senate Bill 2, to require local governments that want to raise property taxes by 5 percent or more to get voter approval, but that proposal stalled in the House.

On the bathroom front, Patrick said he had concerns about the “ambiguous language” the House approved as an amendment Sunday to address bathroom use by transgender Texans in public schools because it “doesn’t appear to do much.” The measure the House approved would require schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities to students who don’t want to use facilities designated by “biological sex.”

“There is still time for the House and Senate to address these concerns — which are both priorities for Texas voters — in a meaningful way,” Patrick said.

Throughout the session, Patrick and Straus have been at odds over what should be the Legislature’s priorities. The lieutenant governor’s statement comes after a weekend of House votes on the issues that have emerged as sticking points in his efforts to push for Abbott to call a special session. The regular legislative session ends May 29.

Last week, Patrick had said he was prepared to go to a special session if the House did not act on the property tax issue and some version of a “bathroom bill.”

Abbott said both pieces of legislation were also priorities for him, though he has not publicly threatened a special session over the two items.

But following the House’s vote on the bathroom amendment, House Speaker Joe Straus said in a statement that the governor made clear “he would demand action on this in a special session.”

Patrick had pushed for the House to move on Senate Bill 6, the measure his chamber passed out in March, to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans or to amend a bill with language from a related House measure. Both measures stalled in the House, which on Sunday approved a more narrow proposal.

Over the past few months, Straus was reticent to allow a vote on the Senate’s bathroom proposal, saying the issue felt “manufactured and unnecessary.”

And ahead of the House’s vote on the property tax measure — which was set on the House calendar ahead of Patrick’s special session ultimatum — Straus argued that the House had addressed the issue of offering taxpayers relief by focusing on a measure intended to reform the state’s complex school finance system.

A spokesman for Straus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Patrick’s statement.

Read related coverage:

Author:  ALEXA URA – The Texas Tribune

Tensions Mount between Dan Patrick and the Texas House

Less than two months into the session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been hardly masking his irritation with a lower chamber that has shown little appetite for some of his priorities.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick celebrated a milestone Wednesday: His Senate had acted on all four of Gov. Greg Abbott‘s emergency items with many more days to go in the 85th legislative session.

“It’s the earliest ever that anyone knows of that either body … has already passed all the emergency items,” Patrick said in a radio interview. Abbott’s top priorities are “out and done” in the Senate, Patrick boasted  a not-so-subtle contrast with the Texas House, which tackled its first emergency item this week.

It’s not the only bone Patrick has to pick with the House these days. As its resistance to some of his top priorities has come into focus in recent weeks, the lieutenant governor has become increasingly vocal about the tension between the two chambers.

“The brow-beating — I think the volume’s up a lot higher than we’ve seen in the past,” said state Rep. Lyle Larson, an ally of House Speaker Joe Straus, a fellow San Antonio Republican. “Using a brow-beating approach in governing never bodes well for anybody.”

In recent media appearances, Patrick has stopped short of directly criticizing the House. But he has hardly concealed his irritation with a chamber that has shown little appetite for some of the issues he cares most about. The latest exhibit came Tuesday, when state Rep. Dan Huberty, the Houston Republican who chairs the House Public Education Committee, bluntly stated that Patrick’s school voucher bill will be dead on arrival in the lower chamber.

“They’ve said they’re against school choice, which is a high priority,” Patrick said in a radio interview on Monday. “We’re going to pass the Texas Privacy Act, which keeps men out of bathrooms and stops boys and girls from showering together in high schools. The House has said they’re not interested in that bill. I don’t know where they are on property tax relief, but … conservatives in the Senate have made a pledge that we’re going to get our job done.”

“What I always ask for is, just bring a bill to the floor,” Patrick added. “We have 94 out of 150 … House members [who] are Republicans. You need 76 to pass a bill. I believe there will be 76 out of 94 Republicans, if given a vote, on the House floor to pass all the legislation that we’re going to pass.”

The House has not responded in kind to most of Patrick’s public volleys, which date back to his panning of the lower chamber’s budget proposal in January — “I can’t explain the House budget” — and demand on the Capitol steps that same month that the House give school choice a vote this session. “It’s easy to kill a bill when no one gets to vote on it,” he said, joining Abbott at a school choice rally.

Then there is Patrick’s highest-profile priority, the so-called bathroom bill that would require transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their “biological sex” in public schools, government buildings and public universities. Straus made clear early in the session that he has serious concerns with the legislation, which is set for a committee hearing Tuesday amid mounting opposition from the business community.

“The speaker said it’s not important to him,” Patrick said in an appearance Sunday on Dallas TV. “Well, it’s important to the voters.”

For argument’s sake, there are some structural differences that allow the Senate to get to work faster than the House. Patrick has acknowledged as much in some recent interviews, while touting the cohesion in his chamber, which this session added even more Republican members cut from Patrick’s ideological cloth.

“You never know what the real drill is there,” Patrick said of the House in Monday’s radio interview, discussing the 150-member lower chamber. “We’re a tight group in the Senate — 31 of us. We work together pretty well.”

Those familiar with House leadership say Patrick’s recent comments probably aren’t helping him make his case across the hall. If anything, they’re solidifying the House’s resolve to chart its own path this session.

“With all due respect, I think they could care less,” said former state Rep. Jim Keffer, an Eastland Republican close to Straus. “Sitting there pounding your chest and pointing your fingers and trying to kick sand in someone’s face — that’s pretty childish to me.”

Looming in the background of these debates is Abbott, who has largely stayed out of the crossfire at the Capitol since his State of the State address in January. The biggest development since then has been his criticism of the NFL for its opposition to the bathroom bill, a potential sign that Abbott is moving toward siding with Patrick after months on the sidelines. Abbott still has not taken a position in a debate that has been going on since early last summer.

Of course, not all the brow-beating on legislative progress is coming from Patrick. Abbott used his State of the State speech to dish out some tough love for legislators on funding for his pre-Kindergarten initiative, telling them to “do it right or don’t do it at all.” Larson called parts of the speech “very demeaning, very condescending.”

Yet just under two months into the session, most of the spotlight remains on the Patrick agenda and its hurdles in the House.

To Straus’ critics on the right, the House’s work so far reeks of an effort to run out the clock before the chamber is forced to take up legislation that could lead to politically difficult votes. Straus’ antagonists at the conservative advocacy group Empower Texans have taken to calling it “Operation Slowdown,” a reference to a Democratic state representative’s remarks in November assuring a crowd that the lower chamber would not move as quickly on some divisive proposals originating in the Senate.

JoAnn Fleming, a Tea Party leader from East Texas, called it the “same old drill over in the House” but noted one difference this session: No one in the House challenged Straus for speaker or voted against his speakership. When the session began in January, he won unanimous support for a record-tying fifth term as speaker.

That has ratcheted up Fleming’s expectations for conservative lawmakers.

“If you can’t get your bills through committee, you need to get out on the steps and call names,” said Fleming, who chaired Patrick’s now-defunct Grassroots Advisory Council last session and remains in touch with the lieutenant governor. “Any slow-walking that goes on over there in the House — if you’re not calling it out, then you’re part of the problem.”

Yet even Patrick’s outspokenness has its limits. As radio host Chris Salcedo railed against the House’s “foot-dragging” and called Straus an “obstructionist” in the Monday interview, acknowledging Patrick would never use such words himself, the lieutenant governor interjected.

“No, no,” Patrick said. “Look, Chris, I’m not going to get into a direct fight at this time with the House.”

Read more:

  • House Public Education Chair Dan Huberty spawned a backlash from school choice activists after his remarks in opposition to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s voucher push.
  • Both chambers have unanimously passed legislation aimed at reforming the state’s troubled child welfare system.

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

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