After this exciting weekend, there is no doubt that you have heard that the Texas House Board of Managers’ attempt to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has failed. On Saturday Paxton was acquitted on all charges and able to resume the duties of his office. After the verdicts came in, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who presided over the trial, gave a surprising speech rebuking the House for wasting the time of the Texas Senate.
We highly recommend you watch this clip below:
This unanticipated speech from Patrick highlights the continuing feud between the Senate and the House as we approach a likely special session on school choice in the coming weeks.
What is particularly notable about the speech by Patrick is his demand for an audit of the overall impeachment to determine how much taxpayer money was spent on this trial; a trial many conservative Republicans are calling a “sham”.
This also marks a pivot for Patrick after a legislative session where we saw him and most Senators (and House members) support the largest single spending increase in Texas history. Many fiscal organizations have called this past session the worst fiscal session in the history of the State. This is objectively true as lawmakers took advantage of a $33 billion surplus by increasing state spending by 42% in one year, instead of giving back to taxpayers the money Texas over-collected from them. The legislature ultimately passed a mediocre property tax relief package that only used $12.7 billion (falling far short of taxpayer expectations).
Has Patrick had a change of heart? It seems to appear so based on his words in this speech:
“I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today. We will provide all our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment. One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators”
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) is in full support of an audit providing transparency to taxpayers after such an abysmal fiscal session. It is disappointing that the Texas House felt the need to waste taxpayers’ time and money on a failed impeachment instead of passing a path to elimination of property taxes, banning taxpayer-funded lobbying, and securing the Texas border. We hope the audit will bring to light how much money and time was wasted on this impeachment trial.
It is also interesting that many House lawmakers in support of the impeachment were making a huge deal out of the $3.3 million that the Attorney General asked for to settle with whistleblowers.
These same lawmakers used this request as grounds to impeach the popular Attorney General, decrying it as a waste of tax dollars, only to turn around the next month and vote to grow Texas government by $69 billion dollars, pass nearly $18 billion in corporate welfare, and add a massive amount of regulation and burdensome licenses to Texans. For many this hypocritical move appeared to show this impeachment was politically motivated since it was clear none of these professing conservatives actually care about stopping the growth of government.
As we approach an inevitable special session on school choice, we hope that Patrick will continue in this pattern of fiscally responsible behavior and give us a school choice package that does not grow government or pour billions of dollars on the corrupt and unaccountable government school system.
You can count on TFR to give a full breakdown of the Senate’s findings in their audit of tax dollars as soon as it is avaiable to the public.
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