Texas' New Leaders Strike Different Tones With Inaugural Speeches

Jan 20, 2015

Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor were inaugurated this morning at the State Capitol. Both delivered remarks, and the two speeches struck very different tones.

For Gov. Greg Abbott, much of the speech focused on thanks and gratitude to the family, friends, and state that allowed him to succeed.

"I am living proof that we live in a state where a young man's life can literally be broken in half, and yet he can still rise up to be governor of this great state,” he said.

Patrick’s speech also added thanks, to God and his faith:

"Proverbs 21:31 says, ‘The horse is made ready for battle, but the victory is the Lord’s.’ I worked hard, but the victory was His."

Patrick's speech quickly transitioned into his goals for the current legislative session and for his time as lieutenant governor.

"My goal is to be the best lieutenant governor in the history of this state. After all, you didn't go to vote for me and say, ‘He might be fourth or fifth best.’ You want me to be the best."

And to become the best lieutenant governor, Patrick pointed to what he considers the mandate given him and lawmakers from the November elections. For him the results mean passing property and business tax cuts, spending more on border security, and school vouchers.

"If you're rich enough, you send your kids to private school. You have choice. If you're mobile enough, you move to the suburbs. You have choice. But if you're a poor working mom in the inner city who does not have the money for private school, has to take the bus to work, and can't move to the suburbs, that parent, that guardian, that grandparent does not have choice, and I'm going to fight to give that parent choice for their children because they deserve it,” Patrick said.

Abbott's speech spent less time on policy. And when he did touch on legislative priorities, they were general ideas about what he says the state needs to do for its citizens.

"More for the families stuck in traffic. More for parched towns thirsty for water. More for our veterans who return broken from battle,” Abbott said.

Abbott made no mention of the tax cuts promised by Patrick. In fact, the only time he used the word "taxes" in his speech was to talk about ending the diversion of gas taxes from road construction.  But he did join Patrick in calling for a way to help parents with children in failing schools.

"If Texas is to remain the leader at creating jobs we must become the leader at educating our children," Abbott said.

With the two new leaders in place, the legislature will get to work. And if all these promises, especially Patrick's, are to be fulfilled, there will be plenty of details to work out. Ending gas tax diversions means replacing hundreds of millions in revenue, or cutting the budget. And cutting business taxes, which send billions to public education, while at the same time figuring out how to pass vouchers, while not harming the state's case in its pending school finance lawsuit, might take some extra finesse.