Abbott’s Artful Dodges
At a media roundtable, the governor says his office is studying issues like border security and transgender access to bathrooms.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a roundtable with print reporters today, and the nickel tour for most topics was: We’re studying that.
When asked about whether the state should approve the Department of Public Safety’s request for $1 billion in border security funding, Abbott said that will depend on whether the incoming Donald Trump presidential administration will “step up” to secure the border as promised. Abbott said he could see Trump fulfilling part of his promise to build a border wall, but noted that in some areas, like Big Bend, it would be too difficult.
On Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s demand for a bill to prohibit transgender men from using a women’s restroom, Abbott ducked and weaved. Before the 2015 voter on Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance, Abbott had said he wanted to keep men out of women’s rooms. But that was before Texas businesses said a statewide bill could cost up to $8.5 billion in lost revenue from sporting events moved elsewhere, corporations deciding not to relocate into Texas, and declining national employee recruitment. Today Abbott said his office is studying the issue to see what current laws say and if there are problems that need to be addressed. He said his top priority is the safety of all Texans, but declined to say whether a transgender person who undergoes a sex change is a man or a woman.
Other topics included the potential impact of a Trump presidency on Texas, the possibility of Medicaid bloc grants reducing state spending, and his definitions of sanctuary cities and sanctuary college campuses for undocumented students.
Reporters pressed Abbott on whether the state law giving in-state college tuition to undocumented students who graduate from a state high school conflicts with his policy of wanting colleges to report undocumented students to federal authorities. The governor said the state law has a requirement that the student seek a path to citizenship and noted that at present the federal government has no such path available to them. “If the [in-state tuition] law is not achieving its goals, then it should be repealed,” Abbott said.
You can listen to the entire roundtable below.