Today’s email is a lot longer than usual, but there are a number of important issues I want to discuss. I hope you will take time to read it and share it with all of your friends, and ask them to join us in our fight to Keep Texas Red.
As a conservative leader, I am braced for the fight of a lifetime over the next year. Democrats are attacking our president, who has made conservative issues — from life, religious freedom, fair courts, tax relief, job creation, protection of our oil and gas industry, a strong military and a secure border — all top priorities. Obama did so much damage to our nation over his 8 years that we needed a leader like Donald Trump. He is his own man, who does things his own way, and takes the fight to the left every day. He fights for the America we all believe in and want to see for our children and grandchildren.
As Chair of the Texas Trump Campaign, re-electing the President is obviously a top priority for me.
Just as important is my priority to keep Texas solidly red. We are battling to preserve a Republican majority in the Texas House. Conservatives must unite to win that battle. If the Democrats takeover the House, they will immediately attempt to rollback all the gains conservatives have made in Texas over the past 16 years. Of course, we would stop them dead in their tracks in the Senate.
Fortunately, as Texas conservatives, we have a very good foundation to run on. On Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that Texas has the strongest economic growth in the country. Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 4.7 percent in the last quarter, more than twice the national growth rate. This is not an accident. It is the result of our commitment to conservative principles — low taxes, reasonable regulations and lawsuit reform. Legislation we passed in the last legislative session ensures that our economy will become even stronger.
Property Tax Reform and Relief
Texas conservatives have been fighting for property tax relief for almost two decades. I was a leader on this issue long before being elected to office. This past session we went a very long way toward accomplishing that goal, starting with $5 billion in direct property tax relief that will show up in your school tax bill in 2020 and beyond. In addition, moving forward, school revenue growth is capped at 2.5%, which will substantially reduce the growth of your property tax bills in the future.
Senate Bill 2 — the property tax bill — will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in reducing the growth of property taxes on their homes and business property over the next decade and beyond by limiting the amount of local spending by cities and counties to 3.5%. If the cities and counties want more, for the first time in history, they will have to put it to a vote of the people.
Currently, many cities and counties, particularly in our urban and suburban areas, have been growing at 7-10% a year in revenues and so have your taxes. I respect the work of our county and city elected officials — they also have a hard job — but taxpayers could not afford their property taxes increasing by 7-10% year after year.
As I travel the state, I am often asked about how rising appraisal rates are impacted by the property tax reforms. By limiting schools, cities and counties to 2.5% and 3.5% revenue growth, as detailed above, we have effectively eliminated rising appraisal values from greatly impacting your taxes going forward. As values go up, taxing entities must now lower the tax rate to stay within those limits. In other words, we are requiring our schools, cities, and counties to live within YOUR means, just as we do in the state budget. In addition to property tax relief this session, we put in an additional and unprecedented $6 billion into new school funding, including teacher pay, to give added tax relief on your school property taxes.
The Biggest Reform in School Finance in Decades
In terms of public schools, one major goal for conservatives was to put more of our school dollars into the classroom. This session we did that. I made it my personal mission to begin to pay teachers more, based on their performance.
We transformed the school finance system on another conservative principle — the money now follows the child. Funding is no longer allocated to a district — it is allocated based on the needs of the children that are in that district. We reduced Robin Hood by almost half — another long-time conservative goal.
I want to thank Senator Larry Taylor, Friendswood, Education Chair and House Education Chair Dan Huberty, Houston, Senator Paul Bettencourt, Houston, who wrote SB 2, Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, Flower Mound, House Chair John Zerwas, Richmond, and all of the members in both chambers for their great work on property tax relief and reform, and the over-all reform of our school system. In 140 days, we changed policies that had not been addressed in decades.
Other Conservative Issues Passed This Session
Since the session ended, I have traveled throughout the state and everywhere I go, the response I get is overwhelmingly positive. Property tax reform was a top priority for conservatives, but we did much more. Here’s just a few of the hundreds of bills we passed this session that are strong conservative policies.
We banned red light cameras, ended surprise hospital billing, protected campus free speech and passed the Chick-fil-A religious liberty bill. We passed the infanticide bill to protect babies who survive an abortion who could be left to die (as they are in New York and Virginia) and additional legislation to help prevent abortions.
We closed loopholes in taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and passed 100% of the NRA priority bills this session. I personally made sure we kept the commitment I made to quadruple border funding in our budget to $800 million, the amount DPS told me they needed when I campaigned for Lt. Governor in 2014. Importantly, we passed a Constitutional Amendment to end any idea of ever establishing an income tax in Texas, which voters enthusiastically supported 75% to 25% last week.
One further note on pro-life bills that we have passed over the last several sessions — I originally wrote and introduced the sonogram bill in 2007, and finally got the support of the speaker to pass it in 2011, when we averaged nearly 80,000 abortions a year in Texas. Abortions have decreased about 15,000 a year in Texas, and we lead the nation in the greatest reduction in abortions. I won’t stop, nor will our party stop, until we can end abortion once and for all. If we ever lose Texas, job one for Democrats will be to try to repeal all of that legislation.
The Facts About the Lone Star Agenda – Make No Mistake, There’s Much More To Do
I totally understand the frustration of some in our grassroots over bills that were not signed into law that are included in the Lone Star Agenda. I, along with my Republican Senators who worked hard to pass bills out of the Senate on policies listed in the LSA, were just as frustrated. Quite a few of our conservative allies in the House, who also wanted to pass those bills, were also very frustrated. Governor Abbott was ready to sign those bills, had they gotten to his desk. But the frustration over the lack of those bills becoming law cannot divide conservatives as we approach 2020.
The Senate passed 9 of the 10 policies listed on the Lone Star Agenda this session (see the list below). And, although we had unprecedented cooperation with the House on the major accomplishments discussed above, sadly, the votes weren’t there in the House to pass several of the LSA bills. Make no mistake, the Senate will once again pass these important bills at our very first opportunity.
The Facts About a Special Session
I have seen the e-mails asking the Governor to call a Special Session. Some e-mails have even suggested I have the power to call one. I do not. That is the sole prerogative of the Governor. Other e-mails are demanding I publicly ask the Governor to call a Special Session. That would not be appropriate, and it is not how strong working relationships in any profession operate.
Here’s the Senate record along with the recorded votes on the Lone Star Agenda policy issues this session:
Lone Star Agenda: Family Rights and Personal Liberty
Lone Star Agenda Item: Increase Protections for Unborn Texans
SB 22 Taxpayer Funded Abortions – Passed in the Senate (20-11)
SB 1033 Fetal Abnormalities – Passed in the Senate (20-11)
Lone Star Agenda Item: Allow Families to make mental & physical health decisions for themselves:
Mental Health – SB 10 – Passed in the Senate (31-0)
Parental Rights Public School Advisory Councils – Passed in the Senate via (SB 22) 20-11
Lone Star Agenda Item: Stop Local Ordinances that interfere in private employer-employee relationships
SB 2485 Passed in the Senate (18-12)
SB 2486 Passed in the Senate (20-11)
SB 2487 Passed in the Senate (18-12)
SB 2488 Passed in the Senate (19-12)
Lone Star Agenda: Transparent and Representative Government
Lone Star Agenda Item: End Taxpayer Funded Lobbing
SB 29 Passed in the Senate (19-12)
Improve Election Integrity
SB 9 Passed in the Senate (19-12)
HB 2911 Passed in the Senate (19-12) The Senate amended parts of SB 9 language onto this bill.
HB 2909 – Passed in the Senate (29-2)
SB 1229 – enhancing election transparency – Passed in the Senate (31-0)
SB 1190 – prevent residency fraud – Passed in the Senate (21-10)
SB 1568 – improves election integrity – Passed in the Senate (26-5)
SB 903 – removes non-citizens from the voter rolls – Passed in the Senate (19-12)
SB 901 – improving election integrity – Passed in the Senate (21-9)
SB 902 – enhancing transparency in vote counting places – Passed in the Senate (31-0)
SB 205 – removes non-citizens from the voter rolls – Passed in the Senate (19-12)
Lone Star Agenda Item: Protect Texas Monuments
SB 1663 – Passed in the Senate (19-12)
Lone Star Agenda Item: End Union Dues
This is the one LSA issue the Senate did not pass.
In 2017, SB 13 passed the Senate (20-11). In 2015, SB 1968 passed the Senate (20-11). We did not have the votes to pass it this session.
Lone Star Agenda: Justice and Security
Secure the Southern Border
This was largely a budget issue, as opposed to a bill. $800 million was again added for border security. Since I have been Lt. Governor, we have allocated an unprecedented $2.4 billion to border security.
Lone Star Agenda Item: Stop Human Trafficking
SB 20 – enhancing penalties for human trafficking – Passed the Senate (31-0)
SB 72 – establishing a human trafficking prevention coordinating council – Passed the Senate (31-0)
This is an important issue to everyone. We have passed numerous human trafficking bills that have been signed into law over the last several sessions.
Lone Star Agenda Item: Protect the rights of Texans to bear arms
SB 19/HB 302 – strengthening gun rights for apartment owners.
Since I have been Lt. Governor, we have passed 22 bills strengthening our second amendment rights, including campus carry and open carry.
Facts about the State Budget – A Lot of Digital & Media Misinformation
There has been a great deal of misinformation about the growth in the Texas state budget this session bolstered by early reports from the Legislative Budget Board and TPPF suggesting the budget increased three or four times more than it actually did. You may have seen e-mails or articles on conservative blogs and news sites this summer that we increased spending this year 12-14%. That was just incorrect.
After adjusting for almost $19 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery, which was predominately federal funds, and nearly $6 billion in cuts for taxpayers, annual growth in the 2020-2021 budget will be 2.5% — well below the conservative goal of population increase times the rate of inflation.
The first budget I oversaw as Lt. Governor was in fiscal year 2016-2017. The average annual budget growth was 2.8%.
The second budget I oversaw as Lt. Governor was in fiscal year 2018-2019. The average annual budget growth was 3%.
As I said, in the budget passed in the most recent legislative session for fiscal year 2020-2021, the average annual budget growth was 1.4 percent — we project actual growth will be 2.5%.
We are Listening
Some grassroots leaders have said that conservative lawmakers haven’t been listening to them. Those same grassroots leaders were key to my campaign victories in 2014 and 2018, and I’m very thankful for that, but I just disagree with them on this. It is crystal clear that the Republican Senators have been listening. We supported the LSA, and as you can see, we passed 90% of it. There were many members in the House who also supported their agenda, but unfortunately, there just weren’t enough of them.
We Must Be United
George Soros, Eric Holder, and Obama are pushing millions and millions of dollars into Texas to try to win the House so they can control the writing of the new district maps after the census. If you have any doubts, read this article. If they succeed in drawing the district maps in Texas, they will likely control the Texas House and Congressional maps for the next decade and beyond. You won’t have to worry about the LSA passing next session or any other conservative bill passing. They will ALL die in the House. And remember this – if we lose the House, we may never get it back again.
A Moment in History
I am very proud and blessed to be your Lt. Governor. I thank God every day for this incredible opportunity He has given me. I watched the John Wayne version of The Alamo with my 9-year-old grandson this weekend. It’s good to remember all of those who gave everything for our Republic and then our statehood, and who have protected it over all of these years.
We are now at another moment in the history of Texas where we must make a stand for freedom and liberty. We cannot minimize what is at stake in 2020. If one of these nutty socialists were to win the White House, in addition to undermining our Constitution, weakening our military and creating open borders, they would move to destroy the oil and gas industry, which would have a dramatic impact on the Texas economy and America’s oil and gas independence.
If we lose the Texas House, we will forever regret not coming together as one and putting aside the internal disagreements that cost us the majority. I realize that some people are still unhappy because some legislation didn’t pass into law, and, as stated, the Senate will pass these issues again at our first opportunity. But now is the time to unite and focus on 2020. The future of the nation is at stake.
Thank you for your continued support and for all that you do for the great state of Texas. Feel free to forward this email to your friends and family who may not be on our email list — they can also click here to sign up for future updates.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
P.S. One final word. I talked a lot about maintaining a majority in the Texas House, but we must pull together to re-elect Senator Pete Flores, Pleasanton, who is in the most competitive senate district in the state.
There are seven other senators who also need your support: Bryan Hughes, District 1- Mineola, Brandon Creighton, District 4 – Conroe, Larry Taylor, District 11 – Friendswood, Jane Nelson, District 12 – Flower Mound, Lois Kolkhorst, District 18 – Brenham, Brian Birdwell, District 22 – Granbury, Dawn Buckingham, District 24 – Lakeway and Charles Perry, District 28 – Lubbock. Please support their re-election efforts so that I can have the conservative lawmakers I need in the Senate to continue to move our conservative agenda forward.