SAN ANGELO, Texas — Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has laid out a list of his top 21 priorities going into the 88th Legislative Session which starts January 10, 2022, and discussed them with staff at Concho Valley Homepage, here is what he had to say.
Patrick revealed his top priorities will be property tax relief, the electric grid, border security, supporting law enforcement, mental health infrastructure and education.
The Power Grid
Patrick intends to prioritize the state’s electric grid and said that the state has not done enough to improve it since the severe winter storm in 2021 caused the deaths of hundreds of Texans. To address this, he wants to call for more investors to build natural gas plants in Texas. He said that the grid’s general numbers have around 85,000 megawatts of power, which include 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy (mostly wind) leaving only 60,000 megawatts.
“On a really bad hot day or a cold winter day we need anywhere from 67-68,000 megawatts of power even in the 70,000 megawatts of power and if the winds not blowing, we do not have enough,” said Patrick
Regarding the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ current work of redesigning the power grid, Patrick said it did not impress him stating that the plan was too “long term.”
“We can not wait long term, we’re adding power needs to our grid every day as people move here.”
He continued by saying that even if the plan started tomorrow, it would still take three years to put together, design, and integrate into the grid.
Patrick’s priorities are heavily focused on education — from what should and should not be taught in Texas Schools, to increasing teacher pay and implementing more scholarship opportunities.
Patrick has also been pushing to reform tenure in higher education in an effort to combat the teaching of Critical Race Theory — (an academic and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is part of American society, defined by the Legal Defense Fund). He said it all started with professors from the University of Texas teaching the framework.
Patrick defined CRT as, “teaching that if you’re white, you are the oppressor, and if you’re a person of color, you’re the victim.”
Patrick continued by citing House Bill 3979, commonly known as the “critical race theory bill” which bans the teachings of CRT in kindergarten through twelfth grade, and said, “it’s not about teaching the history of our country and things that we did wrong like slavery, we teach those things, that’s far different from CRT that says you’re born a racist or your born a victim.”
Patrick is also prioritizing increasing teacher pay as well as giving retired teachers a “thirteenth check,” or a cost-of-living adjustment. Along with this, he wants to implement the use of a scholarship program that would pay for individuals to go to college if they agree to serve as law enforcement officers, math or science teachers, and nurses after graduation.
Another proposal Patrick wants to implement is a “Parent’s Bill of Rights” which would promise parents more decision-making control over discussions regarding topics such as race, gender and sex. Patrick says the proposal will prevent the indoctrination of students similar to Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, however, the Trevor Project said they saw a 150% increase in LGBTQ youth suicide rates when compared to the same time period in 2020.
Patrick said that all students should be taken care of and respected but at the same time believes that Texas parents do not want their first and second-graders taught sex or “how to become a transgender person” and “they don’t want boys playing girls sports.”
“You protect the rights of everyone, but you don’t take the rights away from everyone else in doing that,” said Patrick.
The Lt. Governor’s priorities for law enforcement include calling for a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for people who use firearms in a crime and several rural law enforcement programs to bolster community support and funding for local police departments.
The push for the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for people who use firearms in a crime was designed to prevent “taking guns away from law-abiding citizens” and instead “taking guns from the hands of criminals,” according to Patrick.
The Rural Law Enforcement Fund was created to attract law enforcement to rural Texas to help fund their sheriff’s departments and hire more deputies. The fund will not be going directly to programs that prepare and train officers for mass shootings such as the ones in Uvalde and Santa Fe but will help programs that are already in place.
Mental health Infrastructure
Patrick has said there is an obvious need for more mental healthcare facilities, both civil and forensic, in the state and laid out a plan that includes building a brand new mental hospital in Wichita Falls.
Property Tax Relief
There is reportedly a $27 billion budget surplus to spend on state projects, one of which is property tax relief. Patrick wants to continue to increase property tax relief, and specifically mentioned raising the homestead tax exemption from $40,000 to at least $60,000 and cutting taxes for businesses by expanding personal property exemption.