Tag Archives: Dan Patrick

Texoblogosphere: Week of March 9th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is all about springing forward as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff sadly reminds a fifth-generation Republican who doesn’t want to lose her Obamacare insurance subsidies that Greg Abbott doesn’t care about her at all.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos heard the President give one of the most memorable and moving speeches of our lifetimes.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to bust the spending cap, without having to pay, politically, for busting the spending cap, GOP Wants To Change The Rules In The Middle Of The Game.

“What the BLEEP happened to hip-hop?” asked PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Texas ranks 43 in the US as a place to live for children. That’s what happens when Republicans run the place. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says pro-life is just another way to say ‘I’ve got mine, who gives a rats behind about you!”

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Grits for Breakfast applauds Ted Cruz’s flop-flop on marijuana.

The Rivard Report documents the crowded ballot that awaits San Antonio voters this May.

Randy Bear does the same for the charter amendments, and worries about trying to make changes in a low-turnout context.

The Lunch Tray would be happy to have celebrities market vegetables to kids.

Paradise In Hell declares that the real threat to marriage in Texas is serial heterosexuals.

BOR highlights the 2014 Texas League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard.

Better Texas Blog puts Texas’ Medicaid spending in context.

Texas Clean Air Matters echoes the US military’s call to diversify our energy options and shift more toward a clean energy economy.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Free Press Summerfest acts to speak up about R Kelly being in the lineup.

Texas Vox reports on lobbying efforts to preserve local control.

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(Today’s feature photo is an aerial shot over Dallas, Texas.  Taken by L. Wayne Ashley)

While State Hoards Cash, Texas Cities Borrow

Ask almost any Texans living north of Greater Houston and they can tell you… 2015 has been an exceptionally rough winter for the Lone Star State.  North Texas is just now thawing out from a rare March snowfall, in a year that has seen record winter events.

But long after this (hopefully) final bit of snow melts, municipal governments will still be working to deal with the storm’s aftermath. The exceptional Winter has ravaged Texas roads, leaving a staggering number of potholes and other damage to city and county infrastructures.

Fixing that damage is sure to be costly, and as things appear now, those additional costs are of no concern to state lawmakers in Austin.

Cold weather is only the latest challenge that Texas cities and counties have had to shoulder with little-if-any support from the Legislature.  As Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune reports, the state’s momentous growth has left municipalities on the hook to keep up…

While state coffers are so flush with cash that Texas lawmakers might leave billions unspent this year, local governments are continuing to borrow heavily to provide services in a fast-growing state.

Between September 2013 and August 2014, local governments in Texas borrowed more than $5 billion, bringing the total local debt statewide to $205 billion, according to the Texas Bond Review Board.

[…]

State legislators have noticed — and they’re taking action.

More than a dozen bills have been filed this legislative session aimed at restricting how counties, cities and school districts can borrow money.

[…]

While some lawmakers have argued that local entities should do more to live within their means, cities, counties and school districts have countered that it’s the belt-tightening at the state level that pushes more costs further down the line.

“Cities are expected to be doing more of the state’s old jobs like building roads and reservoirs,” said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League. “It is a bit hypocritical in that regard.”

Lawmakers at the Capitol are all too quick to criticize cities for having to borrow money, while they simultaneously tout the “Texas Miracle”, hoard cash away for themselves, and demand massive property tax cuts at the expense of higher sales taxes.

The one discussion they’ve yet to have in Austin??  If any of that state surplus will be used to aid Texas cities with the massive task of actually making this state work.  And sure Governor Abbott has at least said that the state’s roads and schools should be top priorities for the session.  But he has yet to explain how this additional spending will be funded if the $4.5 Billion in tax cuts goes through as well.

Perhaps he wants cities to take out debt for those too.

Local Control Texas Launches, Builds Support

As previously discussed, the opposition by city and county leaders to Texas-style Big Government has formed.

Launched just this week, the group Local Control Texas has already proven to be quite the diverse group.  Whether Liberal or Conservative, urban or rural, all have united because they recognize that recent actions by Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and many Austin Lawmakers are harmful to Texas communities.  They’re keeping an updated list of the staggering number intrusive bills already filed during the 84th session.

Here’s an excerpt from the group’s letter to the Texas Legislature

Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Speaker Straus and
State Legislators:

We are writing to urge you to limit state government interference with local government policymaking, especially when it comes to quality of life policies. Communities around this state have to balance competing interests, and drawing from different perspectives and values they have arrived at different policies on issues as diverse as single-use bag pollution, heritage trees, oil and gas production, historic preservation, smoking in public places, sexually oriented businesses, payday lending and vagrancy. In most of these cases, the state has offered little to no assistance in alleviating the challenge that municipalities face. We ask that you refrain from hindering local governments’ abilities to serve the interests of their residents by pre-empting possible solutions on these issues.

We, the undersigned, do not all agree on any particular policy on any of these issues, but we are united in a firm opposition to any attempt by the Legislature or Governor to tell our respective communities how we should deal with these issues. In each of these cases local governments and our neighborhoods are shouldering these burdens with little to no help from the state government.

The group encourages all supporters to email their state legislators, and join the cause.  With now fully-organized opposition to these brazen moves, it will be difficult for Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick to turn a blind eye to the issue of local control.

And umm, just for the record, not a single one of these bills was filed by a Democrat.

Visit the website localcontroltexas.org for more.

Texas Leftist Impact 2014

As we say goodbye to 2014, it is right to take a moment for reflection. So Texas Leftist wants to answer the ephemeral question…

For the year that was 2014, who had the greatest impact on Texas Politics??

 

There are of course lots of contenders. Attorney General Greg Abbott handily defeated rival Wendy Davis, and is set to become the state’s second Governor elected in the 21st Century. The reign of Rick Perry will officially come to an end as we ring in the new year. Democrat Davis ran a good campaign and certainly performed well in two debates with her Republican opponent. But in the end, her message was not enough to combat an historically-low voter turnout, and Abbott, along with most other Republican Party contenders, claimed victory once again.

Even with this reality, there were still some bright spots for Texas Democrats, and for Progressivism. The citizens of Denton exercised their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by banning fracking in their municipality, much to the dismay of Big Government Republicans in Austin who have immediately moved to sue the town for working to improve the community.

San Antonian Nico LaHood ousted the Republican Imcumbent to become the next District Attorney of Bexar County. Running on a platform of Bi-Partisanship and reformation of drug convictions, he also rises to the front ranks of the Texas Democratic Party.

But it is another San Antonian that claims the title of of this post… State Senator Leticia Van de Putte.  Though her bid to be the state’s Lieutenant Governor proved unsuccessful, Van de Putte certainly gained attention through a disciplined, common-sense campaign that stayed focused on the issues of Texas, and not partisan gridlock. She never compromised or apologized for her principles, whether they be standing up for LGBT equality in her only statewide debate, or pledging to fight for free tuition to Texas Community Colleges on the stump.

The year’s loss was definitive… Dan Patrick will be the next Lieutenant Governor. But rather than play it safe with her Senate seat, Van de Putte found the courage to risk it all once again, resign her Senate seat and run for Mayor of her hometown. It’s a fighting spirit that has been absent from Texas Democrats for almost two decades.

For awakening the fighting spirit with dignity, courage, wisdom and grace, Leticia Van de Putte had the greatest impact of 2014.

 

Growing Support For Texas Medicaid Expansion?

Politicians tend to say a lot of things when on the campaign trail.  They make a barrage of promises to different audiences, trying to court voters at every turn.  The 2014 election was certainly no exception for Greg Abbott, who handily defeated Democratic challenger Wendy Davis just weeks ago.

But sometimes what is not said is just as important in politics.  After a resounding victory, Governor-Elect Abbott, who vowed on the campaign trail to never seek any form of healthcare expansion under the Affordable Care Act, has remained surprisingly silent on the issue as he prepares to lead the state.

Meanwhile the chorus of state leaders supporting a Texas solution to healthcare expansion continues to grow louder by the day, even among persons Abbott has hand-picked for the state’s top administrative offices.  Here’s more from the Texas Tribune

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott’s pick for Texas secretary of state voted for a local resolution last year endorsing the expansion of Medicaid — a central tenet of the federal Affordable Care Act that Abbott fiercely campaigned against.

In a phone interview, Carlos Cascos, a Republican judge from Cameron County, said that as secretary of state he was “not just going to go along to get along” with Abbott, and that on health care issues there would be “policy disagreement” among Republican officials.

Last year, when Cameron County officials endorsed expanding Medicaid, Cascos told NPR, “It’s contrary to what the leadership in Austin is recommending, but we thought it was important enough to take a position.”

On Thursday, Cascos qualified his support for extending Medicaid coverage to more than 1 million low-income Texans, saying, “At the time, I was looking at it from a local perspective in terms of the uninsured we have here in the [Rio Grande] Valley.”

Abbott’s very selection of Cascos seems to suggest that the opinions of RGV Republican leaders are important.  The Secretary Of State Designate’s opinons come on the heals support from another influential group, this time appointed by Governor Rick Perry.  Again, more from the Trib

A board of medical professionals appointed by Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the state should provide health coverage to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act — a move the Republican-led Legislature has opposed.

The 15-member Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency recommended that the state’s health commissioner be authorized to negotiate a Texas-specific agreement with the federal government to expand health coverage to the poor, “using available federal funds.”

“We’re trying to look at actions whereby more Texans can be covered,” said board chairman Steve Berkowitz, the president and founder 0f SMB Health Consulting. “We’re trying to take the politics out of it.”

As if advocates for Texas citizens themselves were not enough, don’t forget that Texas hospitals, tired of losing billions of dollars to uncompensated care costs, are also facing some tough choices if the state continues to ignore the situation.  This is exactly why the Texas Hospital Association also renewed its call for the legislature to find a Texas solution that helps them, and those seeking medical care.

For Abbott to remain silent when so many groups are speaking out is telling.  Is he listening to the bi-partisan coalition to help Texas families?  Will he change his position on the issue and allow our Texas tax dollars to come back where they belong?  Even if Abbott were to come out in support, what are the chances of finding support withing the legislature, or of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick even bringing such an issue to the Senate floor?

The answers to all will be revealed soon, but for now, the best thing Texans can do is keep talking.  At least then, there is a small chance that our voices will be heard as well.

 

(photo credit:  Travel Trip Journey)

A Big Gamble for Battleground Texas in 2014??

The lead-up to Election Night always gets somewhat ridiculous.  The media takes sides in a desperate attempt to claim that they’re the next oracle of political predictions.  This is typical and expected.

Take Paul Burka, acclaimed political journalist and writer for Texas Monthly, who in a short 2 paragraph article, cemented his views on the Lone Star State’s newest political firestorm, Battleground Texas.

Battleground Texas, the organization chosen by the Obama White House to “turn Texas blue,” proved to have been nothing more than a mirage. In fact, Battleground did more to sabotage the Democratic effort — unintentionally — than to support it, thanks to Jeremy Bird, Battleground’s leader. Bird produced a memo claiming major gains by Democrats, which he published. Unfortunately for Bird, his numbers were erroneous, allowing Republicans to enjoy a big laugh at Battleground’s expense.

I’m not surprised, because the major activity of Battleground was to issue press releases taking credit for X direct contacts with voters and Y phone calls. In the end, Battleground has little to show for its efforts. Democratic sources now acknowledge that Battleground provided nothing useful to the Davis campaign. The result is that the state Democratic party suffered another blow to its credibility.

At least the one fact that Mr. Burka presents cannot be disputed… Jeremy Bird, the founder of Battleground Texas, did indeed release a somewhat epic fail suggesting that Early Vote turnout has skyrocketed.  In reality, Early Voting is actually down… 15,858 fewer votes cast in the state’s 15 largest counties from the high water mark of 2010.

Of course 2014 was always meant to be a big gamble for the brand new organization.  It’s hard to judge any business or group on just their first year of operations.  But still the fact remains that after registering over half a million new voters, it hasn’t seemed to move the needle on early vote, right??

Not so fast… a little history here.  Texas Leftist compiled a chart which shows Early Voting in Gubernatorial election years from 1998 to 2014 just so we can compare…

Texas Early Voting 1998-2014

 (Data compiled from the Texas Secretary of State website)

As you can see, 2010 was a really high watermark.  From 2006 to 2010, Early Voting nearly doubled in the state of Texas. Why? Because 2010 was an exceptional, find-every-TEApublican-on-earth-and-get-them-to-vote-because-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-OBAMACARE DEATH PANELS year. Republican turnout exploded off the charts, and that is what drove up overall turnout.

Which naturally leads us to ask another question:  Absent all of the craziness of 2010, what is motivating those same GOP voters to come to the polls this year?? We could say Dan Patrick, with his Rush Limbaugh style politics and constant readiness to whip up the base, but that would be inaccurate.  As Leticia Van de Putte has pointed out on several occasions, Patrick is basically in hiding from voters. It’s sure not Greg Abbott, whom waited very late in the game to do any true attacks on Davis.  Even now, the worst he’s put out is a poor comparison to Barack Obama, and a charge that Davis is… wait for it… unethical.  Most voters assume as much about every politician, so that’s not going to stop her voters from showing up.

So without being scared into oblivion, are not Republican base voters just as enthused about pushing Abbott over the finish line as Democrats are for Wendy Davis, so that he can basically continue the policy agenda of Governor Rick Perry?

Probably not.

Is it at all possible that the miracle achieved by Democrats and BGTX was to simply hold the line at even close to 2010 levels? And if they’re fanning the flames of enthusiasm, is it possible that the people showing up to the polls are a very different electorate than 2010?

If you follow the trend line of expected Early Voting turnout, and exempt 2010, Texas should be at roughly 1.15 million early voters, 1.3 million at absolute best. Something is causing turnout to “stay” at those historically high levels.

There’s just no way to be sure until we get answers tomorrow.  But unlike Paul Burka, Texas Leftist isn’t ready to throw in the towel.  With 32,000 volunteers working day and night in every corner of the state, it’s quite possible that Democrats will have some good news in one day’s time.

The only thing left to do is go and vote.  Don’t throw dirt on their grave just yet.

 

TLCQ 2014: Endorsement for Lieutenant Governor

This week, citizens all across the great state of Texas are at a critical crossroads, with an important decision to make:  do we stay in the past, or move forward with the future?

In some races for this year’s election, a reasonable case can be made for either side.  For example, the race for Railroad Commissioner features Democrat Steve Brown and Republican Ryan Sitton– two intelligent young candidates that have run solid, solutions-based campaigns.  Even with clear party distinctions, informed voters have a tough choice on their hands for the RRC in 2014.

Sadly, the campaigns for Lieutenant Governor have not yielded the same result.  State Senator Dan Patrick, the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, could learn a lot from his younger colleague Ryan Sitton on how to run a statewide campaign.  This blog will not being going into the litany of issues with Patrick, but would rather refer readers to previous endorsements in the Lt. Gov. Race.

Check out The Daily TexanEl Paso Times, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Wichita Falls Times Record News, Beaumont Enterprise, Austin Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle to find out just how bad Dan Patrick would be for Texas.

But with or without her opponent, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte is worthy of endorsement all on her own.  A long record of proven leadership and public service, Van de Putte stands out as someone that is not afraid to tackle some of the state’s most pressing challenges.  One look at the issues page on her website will let you know just how far her commitment to policy solutions extends.  She is a legislator that is uniquely gifted in both policy knowledge and political charisma.  She is a deal-maker that knows how to find the best in people even when she doesn’t agree with them at all.  (Seriously y’all… Leticia Van de Putte is the ‘Ezra Klein’ of Texas)

And those are just Leticia’s gifts on the political side.  As a mother of six children, pharmacist and small business owner, she understands what it takes to raise a family and have a career in Texas.  And most important… she carries those experiences forward in her legislative ideas.  Though Van de Putte has clearly reached the highest levels of success, she also knows the struggles of working Texans as well.  As a sixth-generation Tejana, she doesn’t just read about situations on the Texas border, she lives them as part of her own family story.  Again, an invaluable experience that she carries with her on to the Senate chamber… one that her opponent doesn’t seem to “get” at all.

Texas Leftist is proud to endorse State Senator Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor of Texas.  But beyond that simple endorsement, I must urge readers… if no other reason, please go and vote to support Senator Van de Putte.  For countless reason, she really does represent the future of Texas, and if elected, we will be a much better state for it.

If you’d like to learn more about State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, check out her recent appearance on Houston Public Media’s Red, White and Blue, where she puts forth common-sense solutions on everything from border security to healthcare and education…

 

(feature photo is celebrity Eva Longoria, Van de Putte and Henry Munoz at a recent campaign rally)