Patrick Makes Pitches at Texas Inaugural
for God, My Pillow Guy and $6 Million Man
January 17, 2023
The top two Texas leaders portrayed the Lone Star State in a utopian light at their third consecutive inauguration at the statehouse in Austin on Tuesday while confessing to several key exceptions that they plan to fix in the regular legislative session in 2023.
While Donald Trump was blasting evanagelical leaders as disloyal for refusing to endorse him in a third bid for president, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick turned the Texas inaugural ceremony into a tent revival after being showered with heavenly superlatives in introductory speeches at the outdoor event on the north grounds of the Capitol.
"We still love God in this state," Patrick shouted to the crowd. "Jesus is king."
Patrick was flanked by family and celebrities including actor Lee Majors, who starred in hit television shows like The Big Valley in the 1960s and the Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970s. Majors, who's 83, was married for six years to Texas native Farah Fawcett in the Seventies before they divorced and he eventually tied the knot with Playboy model Karen Velez before they divorced after six years. Patrick had Majors stand and wave to several hundred people from the stage at the inaugural today.
Patrick also used the event to plug My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell as a close friend and proud new Texas resident. Patrick and Lindell share a common bond as prominent Donald Trump supporters and confidants. Lindell gain famed when he spread discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being stolen. Patrick, who serves as Trump's state campaign chairman, issued a glowing new endorsement for the former president in a third race for president in 2024 just days before the Texas inaugural that Abbott supporters envisioned as a stage to lay the framework for a possible White House run by the governor himself.
With Abbott on board or silent on Patrick priorities in the session's infant stages, the governor confirmed that he's all in on the lieutenant governor's plans for substantial tax relief for property owners and a measure that would give Texas parents the freedom to send their children to private schools and have the state foot the bill. Patrick - to the dismay of Republicans on the far right - wants to exempt rural areas from a voucher bill as a way to pick up support from GOP lawmakers in smaller towns who've steadfastly opposed private tuition subsidies with public funds.
Abbott said nothing, however, about signing off on a high-ranking Patrick priority that would eliminate tenure in public universities under the banner of banning critical race theory in Texas higher education. Patrick and his GOP allies in Austin discovered CRT in the closing months of 2020 and voted twice to prohibit it in public schools the following year. Patrick has offered no evidence to back up the claims of an infestation of critical race theory in Texas academia. His proposal would effectively punsh all professors for the sins of a few if there's any truth to the lieutenant governor's argument.
Former Texas Senate Democrat Eddie Lucio Jr. depicted Patrick in angelic terms at the inaugural where he informed the audience how Patrick had put the words "In God We Trust" back on the Senate dais and in other places in the east wing as well. Lucio voted with the Republicans more than any other Senate Democrats before retiring without a re-election race in 2022. Lucio characterized Patrick as the best of five lieutenant governors who'd led the upper chamber while he'd been a member. Lucio had made similar comments about Senate presidents under whom he'd served before Patrick claimed the gavel initially in 2015.
"In God we have trusted indeed," Lucio exclaimed.
GOP State Senator Brandon Creighton of Conroe was equally exuberant about the lieutenant governor at the ceremony where he said Patrick had been the catalyst for "the exceptionalism" that's sparked an exodus of people from blue states like California and New York for the chance to live in Texas instead.
Patrick said he'd been honored by an Austin American-Statesman article that noted how he put his Christian faith above his political party. Patrick elaborated on how he ranks political party as his third guiding value behind God and Texas.
"We are a blessing," Patrick said in an apparent reference to the state that's he called home since moving here as a young adult. The lieutenant governor quipped that God had been on the verge of resting after creating the world before encountering the question of "what to do with all this oil and gas." That, Patrick added, explains why Texas has a projected budget surplus in the $34 billion range at the start of the session that convened one week ago.
But Patrick also argued that the record excess belongs to the taxpayers who can expect be duly reimbursed through the latest round of cuts in levies on property in a package that will feature a hike in the annual homestead exemption for school taxes to $70,000 from its current mark of $40,000.
more to come ...
There were a few key exceptions to the near-perfection rule like a power grid that's historically unreliable, a border crisis that $4 billion has failed to effect, a lack of parental freedom in education and an infestation of critical race theory at state universities.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick vowed at a swearing-in ceremony on the north side of the Texas Capitol grounds to take swift and decisive action to correct the isolated shortcomings. Patrick
lucio in god we trust
state's top two leader portrayed
Governor Greg Abbott and sought to promote his third consecutive inauguration on Twitter late last night with a photo that captures him from behind on a stage outside the north door of the Texas Capitol with his back turned to the building. While it's impossible to tell from the back of the governor's head if his eyes are closed to savor the moment or peering across a sea of empty folding chairs into the dark of the Austin night.
"View from the podium," Abbott tweeted. "Looking forward to sharing my vision for the Texas of tomorrow with all of you."
The social media post with the artistic touch raises a critical question that Abbott and the GOP majorities in the Legislature face and have 133 more days to answer during the regular session that began a week ago. Will they attempt to replicate their work from 2021 with an agenda that's crafted first and foremost for Republican primary voters while turning their backs on the rest of the Lone Star State?
Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Greg Abbott could hold the keys to the eventual answer after they are sworn into their jobs together for the third time in a row at the main event that the Texas Inaugural Committee is staging today at or near the statehouse on the towering hill that anchors downtown Austin on the north.
The third member of the Texas power triad - GOP House Speaker Dade Phelan - could be in position to ensure that the ruling Republicans don't turn their backs again on half the people of the nation's second largest state like they did in his debut in 2021. Phelan, a Beaumont developer in his fifth term, faced a tougher challenge than any rookie House speaker in modern Texas history with his election to the dais a week after the insurrection that Donald Trump staged at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 after trying failing to overturn the most secure American election ever in the courts.
But Phelan grew into the job after struggling for months in a historically independent and bipartisan lower chamber where the Republicans were content to march in fear and lockstep with Trump and a radicalized party base that had demonstrated a penchant for rebellion, violence and amazing gullibility. Phelan got his second term with the gavel under way with a show of strength and an ideal outcome to the new session's opening week - with strong support for his election on both sides of the aisle with position that upset some Democrats and Republicans alike.
While Phelan lets the House work its will, Patrick has converted the Texas Senate into a puppet show for all practical purposes as the only vote that matters any more. Patrick will lay out what everyone can expect from the east wing of the statehouse in 2023 after placing his left hand on the Bible as the Robin to Abbott's Batman for a full day's worth of ceremonies at inaugural number three. Abbott will do the same today - and he has the power of the veto to help ensure a voice to some degree in the lawmaking process. The GOP lawmakers on each side of the rotunda appear to be loyal to their respective leaders with very few if any more likely on paper to side with the governor in a dispute with the House or Senate or both.
A record projected surplus of almost $34 billion could be the catalyst for a legislative meeting that resembles the so-called "Super Bowl of Sessions" that Republican leaders and lawmakers used to describe their work in 2019 when they approved unprecedented levels of spending on public schools and property tax relief. Abbott and Patrick both want to pour substantial sums into the biennial push for slow the growth of increases in property owners have learn to expect despite repeated promises of tax cuts that never materialize. Another homestead exemption is arguably the most fair and balanced alternative that lawmakers will consider this year. The Legislature will be turning its back on nearly 40 percent of the state's residents if the property tax benefits fail to apply to both renters and homeowners.
The inaugural speeches could provide a peek of potential fights in the making with train wrecks on the possible horizon as a result of differences that the House and Senate leadership teams could be bound to have in 2023. Phelan wants to concentrate the one-time windfall on infrastructure needs like highways, ports and the power grid that collapsed less than two years ago in the peak of a deadly freeze. Patrick wants an infusion for retired teachers but the House could favor outlays for public education that are considerably than those that the Senate favors initially.
But Patrick's paramount priorities include proposals that are pure red meat like a push to use fears about critical race theory in academia as the justification of ending tenure that Texas universities have for the sake of recruiting and retaining the best professors they can find.
more to come ...