High expectations for performance were set for Texas lawmakers this week by Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick in their speeches at the state’s Republican Convention.
To thunderous applause, Lt. Gov. Patrick called for legislators to do more to rein in, and lower, property taxes. Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott continued pushing for state’s to rein in the federal government using the powers granted to the states by Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Since January, Abbott has vocally supported the nationwide movement for states’ to put tighter limits on the federal government by means of the process outlined by Article V of the Constitution. He reiterated that message at the Republican convention.
“We all know America needs mending. The question is who do you trust to do the mending,” said Abbott.
In the 2015 legislative session, Patrick and the Senate pushed for property tax relief and reforms. Their measures were blocked by the House Republican leadership, which instead pushed a plan favored by Democrats to lower the sales tax rate. And before the 2015 property tax relief package passed, it was weakened by Straus’ handpicked conferees.
Texans suffering under one of the highest tax burdens in the nation have repeatedly asked for property tax relief, while polling finds most Texans are satisfied with the existing sales tax. (The GOP’s 2016 platform calls for abolishing the property tax altogether while maintaining the state’s prohibition on an income tax.)
Like Abbott and Patrick, Texas’ Republican voters haven’t been shy about demanding serious reforms be enacted in 2017.
On the March primary ballot, for example, more than 80 percent of voters called on the legislature to protect government employee ballots by stopping the automatic deduction of labor union dues. The party’s 2016 platform, adopted Friday afternoon, contains that same prohibition. (Legislation accomplishing that goal was passed by the Senate but killed by House Republican leadership in 2015.)
With a near two-thirds majority of Republicans in both legislative bodies, enacting wildly popular GOP platform planks shouldn’t be a challenge for Republican lawmakers. Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick have upped the expectations.
But as we’ve learned before, just electing Republicans isn’t good enough; they must govern with the principles on which they campaign. The policy outcomes they enact—or those they refuse to pass—are the measuring stick by which they will be judged. Texans are watching.