Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick discussed immigration, Democratic disdain for President Donald Trump and budget challenges facing the state during a talk in Waco on Thursday with the McLennan County Republican Club.
The Republican from Houston said the GOP must remain vigilant in the face of an energized Democratic party “howling” about Trump’s presidential win that, at least for now, disrupted the momentum of progressives and former President Barack Obama in controlling the national media, the judiciary and higher education, he told Republicans gathered in Knox Hall at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum during a stop in a multi-city tour.
“Democrats hate that, and they’re coming after us,” Patrick said. “President Trump is getting credit for nothing, though the stock market is at an all-time high and hopefully we will see a tax reduction. Most important of all, we are viewed as mighty in the world again.
“We have a tough election year coming up, and I urge you not to take anything for granted. I’m asking you to get at least 10 voters to show up at the polls. Recently in Virginia, Republicans turned out in record numbers, but it made no difference. A blue wave prevailed.”
Virginia voters on Nov. 8 elected Democrats in races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and gained 14 seats in the House of Delegates, according to the New York Times.
Patrick praised Gov. Greg Abbott for opposing the creation of sanctuary cities and signing into law a measure prohibiting them in Texas. The bill also allows law enforcement to inquire about the residency status of people who are lawfully detained, while sanctuary cities “allow people to hide,” he said.
He said 220,000 arrests involving individuals identified as living in Texas without legal authorization have been reported by law enforcement since 2011.
“They were charged with 600,000 crimes, including murder and rape,” Patrick said. “The governor is not anti-immigrant but is anti-illegal immigration.”
Patrick said the population of Texas has grown by 9 million since George W. Bush left the governor’s mansion in 2000. It will increase to 42 million people by 2040, according to state estimates cited by Patrick, who said the growth creates challenges for state leaders.
“We’ll need $7 billion to $8 billion more in our budget just to break even when the Legislature next meets,” Patrick said. “And in Texas you must have a balanced budget. We must live within our means.”
Abolishing the franchise tax will create a $2.5 billion shortfall, Patrick said.
“I’m glad it passed because it benefits business,” he told Republicans. “But the money will have to be replaced.”
Still, calls by Democrats for a state income tax will fall on deaf ears, “and there will be no increase in the sales tax,” he said.
Education accounts for 52 percent of the state budget; health care, 31 percent; and public safety, 11 percent, according to Patrick.
“That’s a total of 94 percent,” he said. “Keep that in mind when someone suggests we trim the budget. The options are limited.”
Discussing the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, Patrick said about 400,000 people remain homeless because of damage to about 150,000 residences.
“For a six-week period, we were all Texans,” he said of response to the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. “There were no liberals or conservatives, no Republicans or Democrats. It was the best of times and the worst of times, as it says in ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ “
On a lighter note, Patrick mentioned that a movie is being made about State Sen. Wendy Davis’ 13-hour filibuster in June 2013 against a proposed bill that would limit abortion options in Texas.
Titled “Let Her Speak,” makers of the film have landed a commitment from Sandra Bullock to play the title role.
“Guess who plays the villian? Me,” said Patrick, a former state senator.
Someone in the crowd asked Patrick about who will play him in the movie.
“I don’t know. I would think George Clooney,” he said, naming the handsome leading man. “My wife said I look more like a fat Dan Aykroyd.”