HOUSTON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT)- Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced a list of priorities ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
Before beginning his campaign bus tour Patrick met with Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner, who shared the need for a mental health facility in West Texas to provide for the Texas Panhandle.
“It’s in part of my plan that I laid out to add five to six new hospitals or beds to current hospitals, or by beds at local hospitals, I say by beds where we take over certain beds and private hospitals for mental health care, said Patrick.” “I want to build a brand-new healthcare facility; it’s going to be in our budget. For the Panhandle.
Along with building a mental health facility also comes expanding the broadband to rural parts of Texas to allow for better telehealth options.
“You can’t have telehealth if you don’t have good broadband, stated Patrick.” it’s a significant amount of money we’re investing it takes time to get all that fiber optic cable to the furthest person, you know, who’s living the furthest out of town. But we need to have broadband access to every one of our schools or hospitals.”
Patrick’s list of priorities also includes funding for law enforcement. During his bus tour, Patrick said that sheriffs expressed their budgets are stretched thin. The cost of funding the sheriff’s office typically falls on the individual counties.
Due to less funding in sheriff’s offices, some deputies and sheriffs are making $20,000-30,000 a year.
“I’m going to put for the program to help fund law enforcement in rural Texas, said Patrick.” “So that sheriffs can make a minimum of 75,000. They can afford to pay deputies; they can hire more people so they can get the equipment they need. I don’t know what that number is going to be. But it’s got to be a significant number because it really gets very little to nothing from the state.”
During the upcoming legislative session, Patrick also plans to focus on school choice. Which has become a growing concern throughout the state.
According to Patrick, almost 90 percent of students are in public schools and 50% of the state’s budget goes toward funding education.
Patrick stated “we have five and a half million kids in public school, we only have about 250,000 in private school today. But about 700,000 or so homeschooled and you have a couple of 100,000 in public charters. So 90% or more of all students will always be going to public schools, we spend 53 to 54 percent of our entire state budget on education, we fund education, I’ve given teachers a bigger pay raise than ever.”
Having a choice between big cities and small cities is a priority.
“What we want to do is we want to give the parents the right to choose, at the same time protect the schools on their funding, stated Patrick.”
Additionally, Patrick addressed the state’s grid issue, stating that 90 percent of Texas is on the grid. Patrick took time to address the problems that come from the hot summer months and cold winter months, providing a solution.
“We need more natural gas or reliable dispatch, what could be hydrogen, hydro, electric, coal or nuclear, but the federal government doesn’t really let you do anything, coal and nuclear anymore, said Patrick.” “So we need more natural gas. We have roughly 85,000 megawatts available to us in total, but that includes about 25 or 30,000 renewables. The wind is great, and renewables are fine, but they’re not there every day when you need them.”
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s full interview will be on Politics Today. On Dec.11 at 10 a.m.