When I ran for Texas Land Commissioner in 2014, I promised to make the General Land Office a laboratory for conservative reform and limited government. Further, I vowed to fight for veterans, to preserve the Alamo and to get top dollar from our state’s mineral wealth.
As a veteran and as a native Texan, as a Catholic and a conservative, it’s very important to me that I keep my word to you.
Nine months in, I’m doing just that. I have an authentically conservative plan to slim down government and I’m executing on these core principles.
It’s easy to say you’re conservative. It’s another thing to actually govern conservatively.
It means making hard choices about the size and cost of government. From day one in office, I have looked for ways to cut costs at the General Land Office while increasing our agency’s effectiveness and efficiency. We are downsizing the agency and rebooting it as a “team of teams,” to flatten our management structure and make it more agile and adaptable to Texans’ needs.
Government agencies tend to use a budgeting method that calls real growth in spending “cuts,” that effectively enlarges the size and scope of government. It’s called “baseline budgeting,” and it’s a problem. We’re taking a different approach at the Land Office by starting from zero and justifying every dollar we spend.
Here are a few other conservative reforms I have initiated at the Land Office since January:
- Offered oil and gas lease sales online, hauling in $20 million in 20 minutes in our first try
- Pushed back against the Endangered Species Act “sue and settle” racket in a 23-state alliance
- Created a contracting Compliance and Ethics Division to ensure honest and fair practices
- Launched a new veterans benefits website to better engage those who served
- Increased the size of our veterans land loans, growing capacity by 25 percent at no taxpayer expense
- Brought new ideas and technology to the GLO, resulting in the TxCoasts.com app and a mobile field inspections app for our staff
- Supported Texas property owners’ fight against the federal Bureau of Land Management
- Fought for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, technological breakthroughs that are creating jobs for Texans and holding energy prices down
I've also used my platform with the Texas Permanent School Fund to call for conservative reforms like more school choice via more public charter schools. And I've used the platform of being a statewide elected official to strongly support life and call for an end to abortion.
Finally, I’ve made the Alamo a top priority. The Shrine of Texas Liberty deserves the best we can give her. We are working with local leaders, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and members of the state Legislature to provide funds to preserve the Alamo. Working together, we secured $31.5 million for the Alamo during the 84th Legislature. The Alamo Endowment Board, which I reconstituted, is focused on raising additional private capital. And we are working with the city of San Antonio on a master plan for the Alamo and its immediate surroundings. If you visit the Alamo in the next few years, and every Texan should, you will see our preservation work in progress. We are also working hard to build a world-class museum and visitors center to showcase the spectacular Phil Collins collection of Texana and Alamo artifacts. Amazing things are in store for the Alamo and I’m privileged to play a part in it.
I’ve said Texas is more than a place on a map, it’s an idea in the hearts of our people. This idea centers on personal freedom, which means less government interference in our lives. I pledge to you that every day you allow me to serve is a day that I will examine ways we can improve.
Forty years ago, Ronald Reagan, referring to his time as governor of California, said he had seen the conservative future "and it works." Today, we are creating a conservative future at the Texas General Land Office. And it does indeed work.