Feb 24th - 12:44 pm
The Texas Senate has released what it’s calling some of the most substantial tax relief in state history. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick joined Senate leaders to announce Senate bills 1, 7 and 8 Tuesday, which would cut $4.6 billion in property and businesses taxes for the 2016-2017 budget cycle.
Senate Bill 1 would cut school property taxes by $2.5 billion, or $200 per average homeowner, by changing the mandatory homestead exemption. That rate has been a flat $15,000 for more than 15 years, but would now change to 25 percent of the statewide median home value. This bill would require voter approval because it would amend the state constitution.
The other two pieces of legislation would affect business taxes. Senate Bill 7 would permanently cut the business franchise tax by 15 percent. Senate Bill 8 would raise the franchise tax revenue threshold from $1 million to $4 million. Officials say that would exempt about 60,000 businesses from paying the franchise tax altogether.
This plan comes on the heels of Governor Abbott’s State of the State address earlier this month, when he said he would reject any budget without significant tax cuts. Senate leaders say their bill has bipartisan support. Meanwhile, House leaders say their chamber’s tax cut proposal would also top the $4 billion mark.
Jul 15th - 6:14 pm
Republican Sen. Dan Patrick and Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte are running a tight financial race to be the next Texas lieutenant governor.
According to campaign fundraising numbers released this week, Patrick has raised nearly $7.8 million since he started his campaign in July 2013. Patrick, who ran a bitter primary against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, attributes about $1 million of that money to the post-runoff donations. Patrick has about $950,000 in cash on hand.
Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, meanwhile, has $1.6 million in her campaign bank account. Van de Putte, who ran unopposed during the primary, has raked in a total of $2.3 million since her campaign launched last November; about four months after Sen. Patrick announced his candidacy.
May 13th - 12:45 pm
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is taking his recent endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst a step further, by appearing in a new campaign ad.
Entitled “Dan is Not the Man,” the ad features Patterson sitting at a table, cleaning his guns and telling the stories behind them. It’s not until halfway through the ad that Patterson introduces himself and talks about his former opponent in the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor, Sen. Dan Patrick.
“It’s pretty clear to me that Dan Patrick is not the right choice for Texas, and that David Dewhurst is,” Patterson says.
Patterson initially declined to endorse anyone after coming in fourth in the primary race, but got behind Dewhurst last week. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who was also a candidate for lieutenant governor, has so far decided not to back either candidate.
May 9th - 7:37 pm
In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke with Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who was there the last time a state official was impeached — nearly four decades ago.
From a contentious debate in Dallas over trusworthiness to an an online video put out by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called the “Ballad of Dannie Goeb,” it’s fair to say this was an odd week in Texas politics. We sat down with Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News and Jay Root of the Texas Tribune to put it all in context.
The governor’s race has seen its share of serious accusations as well. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to sort out whether they’re true.
May 5th - 4:19 pm
Sen. Dan Patrick isn’t putting much stock in Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s new endorsement. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced yesterday that he would campaign for Dewhurst ahead of the May 27 runoff election. Patterson placed fourth in the Republican primary and has been one of Patrick’s more outspoken critics.
In a statement today, Patrick campaign manager Logan Spence said:
“Since his fourth place finish in the primary, Jerry Patterson has been helping Dewhurst, so this really come as no surprise to anyone. Dewhurst and Patterson share the same Private Investigator and the same penchant for dishonesty and vicious personal attacks. Republican Primary voters soundly rejected that in favor of Dan Patrick who offers conservative public policy solutions; and we expect the Republican Runoff voters to do the same.”
Patrick placed first in the GOP primary, ahead of Dewhurst by about 13 percent of the vote. It wasn’t enough, however, to win outright.
During the primary, Patterson hired a private investigator to look into Patrick’s previous business ventures. He discovered Patrick employed four undocumented workers at one of his Houston-area sports bars in the 1980s. Patrick has denied that he knew the workers were in the country illegally and maintained that he never offered to help the employees travel back and forth to Mexico.
Apr 30th - 5:12 pm
Sen. Dan Patrick was quick with a response to a new negative campaign ad released by Republican opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Patrick posted clarification online and in a media email blast, just hours after the ad hit airwaves. Patrick’s campaign refutes claims that he pocketed money by filing for bankruptcy and that he changed his name to hide from his debts.
To be fair, the latest ad doesn’t claim that Patrick changed his name to hide his debts, only that he changed his name to run for public office.
Sen. Dan Patrick is also highly critical of unflattering photos that appear in the Dewhurst ad. One picture shows Patrick in an unbuttoned shirt and tie. In a statement, his campaign said:
“Seeking to portray Dan Patrick in an unflattering light, Dewhurst uses photos of Patrick taken while raising money for children with multiple disabilities, literally giving them the shirt off his back as a charity auction item. Patrick has helped raise over $16,000,000 to benefit the Be An Angel Foundation since 1988.”
Apr 30th - 2:49 pm
The ad wars in the lieutenant governor’s race are are heating up, with yet another hitting airwaves today. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s new television spot targets Sen. Dan Patrick’s ethics and takes aim at his troubled financial past.
On Monday, Sen. Patrick released his second TV spot in less than a week, aimed at Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s record on immigration.
Dewhurst and Patrick are locked in an ugly race for the state’s second most powerful position. Dewhurst, the incumbent, came in second in the March primary. The winner of the May 27 runoff will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in November.
Apr 23rd - 11:52 am
The campaign ad war is intensifying in the Republican lieutenant governor’s race in the form of another 30-second statewide ad. This time, Sen. Dan Patrick is on the offensive, pointing out that his opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst worked with Democrats in the legislature to pass the budget.
“The only thing you have to know about the current budget is every Democrat praised, and voted for it,” Patrick said. “As a conservative Republican, I didn’t.”
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst released his own scathing statewide ad last week, criticizing Patrick’s troubled financial past.
Apr 17th - 9:10 pm
In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we look at how the Patrick team is responding to the ad, and we hear why one former campaign consultant says the strategy could backfire.
NEW POLL NUMBERS
A new poll puts Sen. Ted Cruz at the top of the heap when it comes to potential 2016 Republican primary candidates. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to evaluate what the numbers mean for Cruz, and for Gov. Rick Perry.
MAKING THE GRADE
All this month, schools are measuring students with the STAAR test. But what about using it to evaluate teachers? We spoke to Jennifer Canaday of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, who says the idea could be disastrous.
Apr 15th - 8:34 pm
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at highlights from the debate, plus we spoke to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose attempts at immigration reform in Washington have drawn widespread attention.
What does our immigration system look like now? The co-director of UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, Denise Gilman joined us to focus on the facts about conditions on the border, the reasons for illegal immigration and more.
One of the questions in Tuesday night’s debate centered around former state Rep. Aaron Peña, who’s accused both the Democratic Party of taking Hispanics for granted and the Republican Party of going too far with anti-immigrant rhetoric. We sat down with Peña and Democratic strategist Harold Cook to get their take on the debate, and to dig into some new poll numbers on statewide races.
REROUTING DRIVER FINES
The state’s driver responsibility program is getting a second look, after criticism that it unfairly targets low-income Texans. We heard what local judges think about a possible change.