Austin Statesman: Abbott, Patrick are session’s big winners

On one level, any legislative session that does not require an immediate special session must be considered a success.

More broadly this was a consequential legislative session, with several of the state’s major issues addressed.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick each ran for office with very specific goals.

Of the five “emergency items” that Gov. Abbott identified during his February State of the State address, four of them passed, leaving only ethics reform (partially) undone.

Patrick specifically campaigned on increasing border security and cutting property taxes, and he got both of those. Border security funding is doubling, and Texas property owners will have a $10,000 increase in their homestead exemption.

Gov. Abbott got his high-priority items through, which is an indication that he was working much more aggressively behind the scenes than some said. He was actively meeting with legislators and kept the House and Senate leadership together when they had very different legislative visions. Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, deserves credit for ushering through Abbott’s top items.

Prognostications that Lt. Gov. Patrick would be a disaster, running the Senate like a tyrant, were absurd and unproven. The Senate ran smoothly, even though it had the largest freshman class in recent memory. Lt. Gov. Patrick’s early promise to not seek the limelight or take credit was kept. Removing the two-thirds rule enabled the Senate to pass more legislation earlier than ever before, and it significantly reduced the need for a dreaded special session.

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