Following an introduction by former senator Eddie Lucio and Sen. Brandon Crieghton (R-Conroe), Patrick was the first of the two officials to receive the oath and immediately afterward delivered a speech loaded with a preview of legislative proposals.
Some of the issues Patrick touched on included providing property tax relief, increasing border security, adding thermal power sources to the state’s power grid, banning the teaching of critical race theory in higher education, and increasing teacher salaries.
In addition, Patrick said that “hundreds of millions” of dollars were in the budget for rural law enforcement agencies, and that the state would look to build more mental health care facilities.
Two issues that stood out among those Patrick highlighted were school choice and property tax relief.
“The governor and I are all in on school choice,” Patrick emphasized during the speech, adding, “We are going to pass school choice and I hope, finally, that this is the session that we join over 30 other states in giving parental rights to parents to choose the school of their choice.”
Turning toward property taxes, Patrick pointed to past efforts that raised the state’s standard homestead exemption each session and noted he plans to increase it to $70,000 this year – noting that it was $15,000 when he first took office.
He is also calling for an increase in the business personal property tax exemption to $100,000.
Abbott was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court.
Like Patrick, he used his speech to address legislative priorities.
School choice was one of the issues brought up by Abbott that overlapped with Patrick’s speech. The governor said that “parents deserve the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their child” and chided schools to steer clear of social issues.”
“But we must remember this: schools are for education, not indoctrination. Schools should not push social agendas, they must focus on fundamentals,” Abbott said.
School security was also a priority issue Abbott brought up, asserting “we must prioritize protecting students and staff” and further that mental health services must be provided to those who need it.
Abbott’s speech carried a heavy emphasis on the state’s economic success and projected growth. “From our economy to our people, to our public safety, Texas has never wielded more power or enjoyed such economic might as we do today.”
In addressing border security, Abbott slammed the Biden administration, citing illegal immigration statistics that have increased significantly during the past two years and highlighting the state’s efforts under his administration to respond.
Both Abbott and Patrick’s speeches showed the duo aligned on several overlapping issues, including calls to lower property taxes.
But while the inauguration ceremony and the legislative issues discussed by the two leaders during their remarks have drawn considerable attention, Abbott is garnering media attention on another front.
Abbott and his political strategist Dave Carney navigated questions regarding the governor’s 2024 presidential aspiration and were asked whether he was “ruling out” a potential bid for the White House.
A White House bid would pit Abbott against former President Donald Trump, who has declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
Both Abbott and Carney emphasized that the focus, for now, will be on the legislative session and that the governor isn’t “ruling in” a presidential bid at the moment.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.