In recent years, the Trib editorial board has focused more on opening up our inner-sanctum interviews with the candidates to greater public scrutiny while leaving decision-making to the voters. However, each election prompts us to occasionally take cherished fellow voters by the lapels and shake them into awareness concerning candidates who plainly have no business in public office.
By any logic, the match-up for lieutenant governor should in no way trouble the prudent voter who demands candidates be informed about issues. Given the complicated matters facing Texas, including budgetary policy, property taxes and school finance, consider these stark choices: a radio and TV broadcaster of little repute or a widely respected PriceWaterhouseCoopers financial analyst and accountant. Voters should clearly vote to elect the latter, Mike Collier, as our next lieutenant governor.
Unlike incumbent Dan Patrick, Collier, 57, is a facts-and-figures guy who deep-dives into complex policy in ways that command the respect of intelligent voters, regardless of party inclination. His solutions for crushing property-tax burdens, for instance, go beyond the merely cosmetic — including Patrick’s proposed capping of the property-tax revenue that cities, counties and school districts can gain from one year to the next. Even the most simplistic voter can see this does little to nothing to address the problem of property-tax appraisals. Collier’s menu of solutions includes choking off a loophole that allows large commercial and industrial properties to pay less than their fair share in property taxes. Guess who makes up the difference?
Collier’s nuanced take on school finance is refreshing. We believe he’s far better equipped to make sense of recommendations that a bipartisan commission on school finance will deliver to the Legislature in January. For instance, he vows to jettison school vouchers from the ongoing debate — common sense at a time when the state of Texas’ fair share of funding for public schools is declining, heaping more burden on local taxpayers. If the pot for school funding by the state is dwindling, why dilute that funding further with school vouchers for private schools?
Other Mike Collier proposals include restoring retired teacher benefits; fully investing in pre-K programs (something Gov. Greg Abbott has toyed with also); instituting a Patient Financial Bill of Rights, including “absolute protection for Texans with pre-existing conditions” and no out-of-network surprises; and an Audit, Performance and Integrity Commission to root out corruption at the state level.
Over the decades, we’ve run into former Democrats who feel the Democratic Party has abandoned them. Fair enough. If they speak truth, Mike Collier is their man. This former Republican strikes us as an old-fashioned conservative Democrat whose policies are pragmatism based on hard data and sound policymaking. One need only hear Collier speak to know he’s far and away an improvement over the bellowing, hamfisted political embarrassment we now have in office.