Patrick Lists 2023 Legislative Priorities

Lieutenant Governor’s top issues include funds for county law enforcement, a new state hospital in the Panhandle and additional mental health beds in rural Texas.

December 15, 2022

Legislative News

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Following the Legislative Budget Board's adoption of spending limits for the upcoming 2024-25 state budget, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference on Nov. 30 to announce his priorities for the 2023 legislative session. With significant balances in state and federal funds – an estimated $27 billion in General Revenue funds, $3 billion in unallocated federal COVID-19 fiscal relief funds and $14.1 billion in the rainy day fund – Patrick said Texas has an unprecedented opportunity to chart its future.

The Lieutenant Governor said his campaign bus tour of rural Texas communities strongly influenced his priorities. He spoke of visiting county sheriffs and judges – specifically mentioning Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner. His priorities, especially the rural law enforcement fund and support for constructing a state mental health hospital in the Panhandle and mental health beds elsewhere in rural Texas, indicate county officials made a strong impression. He also stated he looks forward to working with the Texas Association of Counties on the rural law enforcement fund.

Patrick is looking to lawmakers in both chambers to come forward with specific proposals based on his priorities (see below). He opposes spending the entire $27 billion surplus and busting the state's spending limits and wants to send the unused portion of the surplus to increase the rainy day fund balance. This may require statutory and constitutional changes. He suggested that his priorities, including funding for property tax relief, would fit within the new statutory spending limit established by SB 1336 (87R) – the Consolidated General Revenue (CGR) Limit. The CGR limit exempts appropriations that provide tax relief or pay for the cost of recovering from a disaster declared by the Governor.

Patrick's priorities are listed below.

Property Tax Relief

  • Raise the homestead exemption cap (increase to $60,000-$65,000 from $40,000).
  • Cut taxes for businesses by expanding the personal property exemption (raise to $100,000 from $2,500).

Electric Grid

  • Build more natural gas power plants to add needed megawatts.
  • Level the playing field between renewable energy and dispatchable energy to ensure reliability.

Border Security and Law Enforcement

  • Rural law enforcement fund (state funded and maintained; about 200 counties below a specific population to include sheriff salary supplement, equipment, etc.; $500,000 to $1 million per fiscal year).
  • Sheriff pay enhancement (up to $75,000).
  • A 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for criminals who use a firearm in the commission of a crime.
  • Recall district attorneys and judges who refuse to follow Texas law (either transfer cases to another county or recall the elected official).
  • Continue border security funding.

Education

  • New fund for non-Permanent University Fund schools (endowment for four-year institutions outside of The University of Texas and Texas A&M University).
  • Expand usage of current scholarship programs for teachers and law enforcement (including nurses).
  • Increase teacher pay.
  • 13th check for retired teachers (cost-of-living adjustment).
  • Empower parents by giving them a voice in their children's education (parental bill of rights).
  • Continue school safety funding.
  • Reform tenure in higher education.

Moving Texas Forward

  • Continue investment in the state mental health system.
    • Estimated cost is $2.2 billion, including a new mental health hospital in the Panhandle, new beds in El Paso and Rio Grande regions, and new beds at the Terrell and Wichita Falls state mental health hospitals.
    • Approximately 2,500 beds are available, with 1,000 offline due to staffing shortages. Funding would provide about 3,500 beds pending available staff.
  • Finish the Alamo restoration.
  • Retire debt where it saves the State of Texas money.

Election Integrity

  • Restore voter fraud to a felony.
  • Ensure timely counting of votes and review of machines.

For more on Lt. Gov. Patrick's comments and budget priorities, view his Nov. 30 press conference. For more information about this article, please contact Noe Barrios.