The Back MicThe Back Mic: GOP State Rep. Opposes Dan Patrick’s Re-Election, Abbott Tempers Legislative Funding Threat, Revival of Property Tax Break Floated

This week — the lieutenant governor is criticized by a conservative House member, the governor tempers a veto threat, and the revival of a property tax abatement program is floated.
June 11, 2021
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House Member Criticizes the Lt. Governor for Senate’s Conduct

After two weeks of blasting the House for failing to pass election reform and other priority legislation, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick received a counterpunch from freshman Rep. Cody Vasut (R-Angleton).

“I frankly think we need new leadership in the Texas Senate,” said Vasut speaking to the Lake Jackson Business Association. The remarks were first reported by The Facts, a local newspaper in Brazoria County.

Vasut, a member of the conservative Texas Freedom Caucus, added, “I do not support Dan Patrick for reelection — I think he needs to go, I think we need somebody else in there, somebody who’s actually committed to being a productive member.”

“Let me tell you this — your Texas House passed 75 percent of the Senate bills that came over, and your Texas Senate passed less than half of the House bills that came over,” he concluded.

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A spokesman for Patrick responded, saying, “[The] House didn’t appear to want to pass a great deal of conservative legislation, even when it had the support of the overwhelming majority of Republicans.”

Unlike after the 2019 session, neither chamber is happy with the other as both evaluate the accomplishments and shortcomings of the 87th Legislative Session.

Gov. Abbott Tempers Promise to Cut Legislative Funding

At the conclusion of the 87th Regular Legislative Session, Governor Greg Abbott reacted to the last-minute collapse of election integrity priority legislation by threatening to veto the entire legislative branch’s funding in the 2022-2023 biennium budget.

“No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” he said of the House Democratic Caucus’ walkout that killed on the final night of session the election bill and bail reform, another of Abbott’s priorities.

In an interview with Spectrum News, Abbott tempered his previous threat, saying, “I’ll give them the opportunity to reinstate it.”

“I will add that issue to the special session agenda, so they have the opportunity to reinstate all of the funding that’s contained in Article X,” he continued.

Abbott has stated that at least two special sessions are in the hopper for this year: one in September or October to tackle redistricting and the distribution of federal coronavirus dollars and another before then to pull across the finish line election and bail reform.

Lawmaker Calls on Abbott to Add Chapter 313 Renewal to Special Session

With the program set to expire next year after the legislature elected not to renew it, Rep. Stan Lambert (R-Abilene) is the first to call on the governor to include revival of the Chapter 313 property tax abatement program to a special session agenda.

Considered an economic development tool by proponents, the program empowers school districts to give companies tax breaks in exchange for their relocation into the respective district and job creation.

A Houston Chronicle analysis found that the price tag for a decade extension of the program would cost $10.8 billion and pegged it at $211,600 per job created.

Just over half of the abatements are given to renewable energy companies while just under half belong to the “manufacturing” category, within which sits oil and gas producers.

But opponents of the program say it’s gratuitous and places an undue burden on the rest of the tax base.

In his letter to the governor, Lambert says, “These agreements are an important economic development tool, proven to create jobs and bring business to Texas.”

“In HD 71, we are fortunate to have ideal conditions for renewable energy electric generation, and these agreements have been a key driver in getting renewable energy companies to settle in our district, creating hundreds of jobs and providing a positive impact on our economy,” he continued.

“These agreements are an important factor in keeping Texas the business-friendly state that it is, and it is imperative that we do not let them expire.”

Since the legislative efforts to renew Chapter 313 failed, Abbott has remained mum on the subject.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is 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.