AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presides over the Texas Senate and wields tremendous power over legislation. Lawmakers are expected to have a $27 billion budget surplus to work with, and Patrick noted that gives them an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future of Texas.
In 2021, a deadly winter storm killed hundreds of Texans. The electricity grid failed, and it had fatal consequences. That’s why taking more steps to fix the grid is a top priority for Patrick next year.
“If you can’t turn the lights on, you don’t have the Texas miracle,” he said at a press conference at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday.
Patrick said he would not end the legislative session in May if lawmakers haven’t passed a bill to prioritize and incentivize natural gas production in the state. He argued that would help prevent another power grid crisis.
“I personally cannot see myself leaving this building knowing that another Uri could happen,” Patrick said. “I just — I’m sorry if anyone gets mad about me saying that —I just think it’s too important.”
It’s a promise one analyst thinks Patrick and lawmakers will try to keep.
“I think if elected leaders leave any remaining issues unaddressed, they’re really playing with fire politically, because the voter expectation is that this situation will be fixed,” said Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.
Patrick is also putting a big emphasis on property tax relief. He wants to give back part of the $27 billion budget surplus to Texans.
“When you have this kind of money, you’ve got to get it back to the taxpayers,” he said.
And after the tragedy in Uvalde, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, Republicans have made a push for more mental health resources in the state instead of passing stricter gun legislation. Patrick wants to build a number of new mental health hospitals across the state.
Of his 21 priorities, he also hopes to create a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for anyone who commits a crime with a gun, further invest in border security and empower parents in their children’s education.
“We have an extraordinary opportunity, unlike we have never had before, to chart the future of the state of Texas, and create a vision,” Patrick said.
Ultimately, it’s lawmakers who will work together to draft legislation next session.
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