Dan Patrick’s politics are bad for Texas

The Senate chamber at the Texas Capitol on Aug. 16, 2017, the morning after the end of the special session. Photo by Austin Price / The Texas Tribune

It’s time to get the Texas Senate back to business.

As lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick has prioritized polarizing political sideshows, like the bathroom crusade, over addressing the state's biggest priorities, such as funding our schools, fixing our traffic problems and providing real property tax relief.

While Patrick snaps selfies and courts the television cameras, meaningful legislation to address these critical issues has ground to a halt. The lieutenant governor has held the people’s business hostage, bullying members of his chamber to bend to his policy demands rather than leading reasoned and respectful debate on the merits of issues. He does not lead, but rather dictates through fear and intimidation.

Over 99 percent of Patrick’s most recent fundraising came from donors who wrote checks for $1,000 or more, and his top donors include a handful of billionaires devoted to poisoning Republican politics through a disruptive agenda fixated on internal division and bizarre social causes. These are the masters Dan Patrick serves. So, what has he done for ordinary Texans?

He willfully proposed a short-sighted solution to rising property taxes that would have usurped local control and squeezed available funding for local first responders and other essential services. He was hell-bent on passing a discriminatory and unnecessary bathroom bill despite pleas from thousands of business leaders and many other Texans to drop it. This issue alienated job creators and might cost us the opportunity to have Amazon open a second headquarters in Texas.

He led the Senate’s effort to defund our public schools, to divert your tax dollars to private, unaccountable institutions in the name of saving economically disadvantaged students from failing schools — even though less than five percent of schools fall below minimum state expectations. Poor students would not benefit from these vouchers because they are valued far below the cost of private school tuition, a simple fact he could not have overlooked.

He insulted and unfairly blamed our locally elected city councils, judges and commissioners for an increase in property taxes that the Legislature has, if anything, only exacerbated by reducing state services and leaving local governments to pick up the slack. He exploits tragedy to win political points; inserting himself at the microphone in places like the prayer vigil for the five Dallas police officers killed last summer, and most recently in Sutherland Springs following the horrific church shooting.

Although he and I agree on many conservative issues, Patrick’s abrasive, bully politics are an embarrassment to our great state. Texas is the Friendship State. Texans are friendly, honorable, respectful, neighborly, proud, faithful, loyal, honest, sincere, caring, genuine, compassionate, intelligent and so much more. Which of these describe our lieutenant governor?

If elected, I will focus intensely on critical issues facing Texas, and govern with respect and civility for all, whether we agree on the issues or not. We should not be distracted by trendy political sideshows. Time and energy are precious. We must get the Texas Senate back to business, and focus all resources on protecting the core of what makes Texas great.

As a rational Republican leader, I am committed to upholding the true conservative principles Lt. Gov. Patrick has abandoned. I will preserve local control, individual liberty and property rights. I will fight to provide meaningful property tax relief for homeowners, not smoke and mirrors. I will honor the Texas Constitution’s mandate to “make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

I will address our Medicaid challenges and ensure access to healthcare. I will protect innocent children, the disabled, the elderly and the unborn. I will prepare for the continuing statewide population boom with attention to infrastructure deficits. I will secure our Texas border in partnership with the federal government. I will prioritize statewide emergency preparedness and protecting our coastal areas from flooding. I will work to recruit and retain job creators with pro-business, non-discriminatory policies. I will support our military, police, fire, and other first responders in every way possible.

We should not be distracted by political grandstanding and the divisive political agendas of a handful of zany donors who are out of touch with regular conservative Texans. Let’s get the Texas Senate back to business.