The Back MicThe Back Mic: Abbott Endorsees on School Choice Comment, Comptroller Criticizes ESG, New Senate State Affairs Members Added

This week — reactions from Abbott’s House endorsees to his school choice support are listed, the comptroller criticizes oil and gas divestment policies, and Dan Patrick swaps members of a powerful Senate committee.
May 13, 2022

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Abbott’s Runoff Endorsees React to His School Choice Comments

On Monday night, Governor Greg Abbott offered his most full-throated support for school choice legislation yet. 

He told a crowd in San Antonio, “Empowering the parent means giving them the ability to send their child to any public, charter, or private school with state funding following the student.”

That support, should it remain, means the proverbial ball is in the legislature’s court for potential legislation next session. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who controls the Texas Senate with an iron fist, voiced his support for Abbott’s comments.

Meanwhile, the very nature of the Texas House means it’ll be more of a mixed bag. Asked about it recently by radio host Chris Salcedo, Speaker Dade Phelan said a school vouchers test vote last session only had 40 to 45 members out of 150 in support.

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Abbott has waded into a number of House GOP runoff races, some of his endorsees have been outwardly opposed to vouchers in the past. 

The Texan asked each for their reaction to the comments. Click below to hear what they said:

12Kyle Kacal*Did not reply.
19Justin BerryDid not reply.
23Patrick Gurski“Yes, I agree with the Governor on this statement.”
52Caroline Harris“I agree with Governor Abbott. We must give parents and students more options in education. Families should be able to choose a school that provides a quality education, free of Critical Race Theory and sexually inappropriate content.”
60Glenn Rogers*Did not reply.
61Frederick FrazierDid not reply.
63Ben BumgarnerDid not reply.
70Jamee JollyDid not reply.
73Barron CasteelDid not reply.
84Carl TepperDid not reply.
91Stephanie Klick*Did not reply.
93Laura Hill“We need to ensure every Texas child can receive an excellent education. That is our obligation and the current system needs to be improved. I’m excited to work with Governor Abbott to get the job done.”


Texas Comptroller Weighs in on ESG Movement

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar criticized the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement making gains in corporate America this week.

ESG is a financial grading system that determines how much investment is channeled or divvied out, and to whom, based on factors like environmentalism and adherence to mostly left-wing social causes.

“Numerous companies and their leadership are pushing an [ESG] agenda that not only threatens the Texas economy and jobs, but also undermines national security,” Hegar said. “This comes at a time when Texas oil and natural gas should be playing a key role in supporting the American economy and providing security for our allies abroad.”

Hegar is tasked with evaluating Texas’ pensions for state investments in companies that advance these kinds of policies, especially those boycotting the fossil fuel industry. So far, the comptroller’s office has identified 19 companies suspected of oil and gas boycotting policies and over 150 more offering fossil fuel-boycotting investment funds.

“By identifying such companies, we can do our part to help ensure Texas is not investing public funds alongside those engaged in this duplicitous scheme. Texas won’t sit idly by while Washington and Wall Street peddle a fairy tale that has real negative consequences for the Texas economy, our energy independence, and our national security.”

Senate Committee Membership Shifts

The Senate State Affairs Committee gained two members this week as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick added Sens. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) to the body.

The pair will replace Sens. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Beverly Powell (D-Burleson).

Nelson announced her retirement last year and passed on seeking re-election. Powell, whose district shifted from a battleground to strongly Republican after redistricting, dropped her re-election in April after she said it became clear she couldn’t win in the new district.

Powell’s lawsuit against the state alleging redistricting impropriety hasn’t been resolved.

“The Senate Committee on State Affairs has been charged with studying key issues this interim, and following news that Sen. Nelson and Sen. Powell will be departing, I have appointed Sen. Bettencourt and Sen. Kolkhorst to replace them so the committee’s important work can continue uninterrupted ahead of the 88th Legislative Session,” Patrick said of the moves.

Interim charges for the State Affairs Committee include evaluating the effects of the Court of Criminal Appeals’ ruling that the attorney general cannot prosecute election fraud charges; identifying the effects of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat and tasks enforcement with citizens rather than the government; the effects of prosecutorial discretion policies in certain counties; and assessment of the state’s pension systems for politically- or socially-focused investments.

The committee’s next meeting is set for May 25.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.