Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is thrilled with this Texas Legislature, and he doesn’t understand if you’re not.
He came by WFAA/Channel 8 this week to say so, speaking to Texans both to his left and to his even-further-right.
By delivering an average $125 property tax cut, more state troopers along the border and new A-F grades for public schools, “the Senate led,” the Houston radio executive said after taping an Inside Texas Politics interview to air at 9 a.m. Sunday.
After his first session presiding in the Senate, Patrick bragged about, mostly, the Senate.
“The budget follows the Senate bill on all the key issues,” he said, lavishing praise on local state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chairwoman of the Finance Committee.
(Instead of a property tax cut, the House wanted a broader sales tax cut for everybody. But, hey, Patrick was on a roll.)
He thanked Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, for tough work on the bill allowing licensed Texans over 21 to carry a concealed handgun at college, and on a failed attempt to reel in college benefits for veterans’ dependents.
Rookie Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, passed only one bill into law, but “it takes a while to learn the process,” Patrick said. (His first year, he passed three.)
Mostly, Patrick wanted to brag about the Senate passing 20 of his 22 priority bills, but not to talk about failed bills supported by Tea Party groups but opposed by the Texas Association of Business.
For example, business conservatives successfully fought back a bill ending in-state tuition for teens educated here but brought to the U.S. illegally.
“It was three or four votes short,” he said. “Look, let’s focus on the 20 of 22 things that happened.”
That included the tax cut, which requires voter approval in November, and the A-F school ratings (but not $100 million in private school vouchers).
Some feared the Senate would resist the d-word — debt — but Patrick said he was OK with $3.1 billion in bonds for Texas universities, $200 million of it for local schools.
Patrick said most of the money is for medical and engineering schools: “I didn’t want money to go to build a new Taj Mahal we don’t need.”
Oh, and he wants it reported that he does not “intend to run” against Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018.
“Lieutenant governor is where the action is,” Patrick said. “I love it. It’s fun.”
He seems convinced.