Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick said he would act on a "clear mandate" from Texas voters as he unveiled an ambitious agenda Thursday that included tax cuts, education reform and more funding for border security and women's health care.
"My message was very clear and consistent through the primaries, the runoff and the general election on the issues I would address if I were elected lieutenant governor," said Patrick, speaking to reporters at the Capitol. "It's clear the people of Texas know what they want the Legislature to do, the issues they care about."
Among the Houston Republican's goals: a "conservative budget" with "significant funding" for tax relief, legislation that would limit state spending to population growth and inflation, and an end to diversions of state gas taxes from road funding.
But he also called for more money in certain areas. The state should increase resources for the Department of Public Safety at the border and continue funding the National Guard's presence there, Patrick said. More dollars should go to women's health care, too, he said, as well as education initiatives like early reading programs, career training, and college scholarships for students who become math and science teachers.
The 84th legislative session gets underway on Tuesday. Patrick will be inaugurated as lieutenant governor on Jan. 20.
Patrick, who had served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee while a state senator, also mentioned school choice reform and expanding the state's A through F grading system from school districts to the campus level.
"I believe that we should have school choice for every child in Texas, not just for the wealthy who can send their children to private schools, not just for those with the mobility to move to the suburbs," he said.
While Patrick said he believed his legislative agenda reflected the wishes of voters, he emphasized several times that he viewed his role as lieutenant governor to help "guide and assist" his colleagues in the Senate.
"I understand more than most very clearly that it's the senators who are going to achieve these goals," he said. "This will not be a top-down program."