The Governor Behind the Curtain

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From the outside, Governor Greg Abbott since his state of the state address in early February has seemed like the man out of the mix in the legislative session. But then maybe Abbott has been like the great and powerful Oz, a man behind the curtain making things happen unseen.

“I am involved in the process on a daily basis. An easy example is I had an hour-long meeting this morning” with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Joe Straus and Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the governor told reporters earlier today.

But on one of the biggest issues of the session—the debate between the House wanting sales tax cuts and the Senate wanting property tax cuts—Abbott wouldn’t take sides today. He wants a substantial cut in the state franchise tax for business, but otherwise the fight is up to the Legislature.

“The strategy here is we want to reduce taxes in a way that will most profoundly lead to job creation,” Abbott said. “Now, we are having a robust discussion about other ways to reduce taxes. There is the possibility of property tax reductions, the possibility of sales tax reductions on top of the margins tax reduction. I feel there’s going to be at least and maybe more than one way to reduce taxes in Texas.”

Abbott said the only thing he absolutely will not accept is a budget that does not cut the business franchise tax. “With regard to the veto word, I don’t want to go throwing that out there loosely,” Abbott said, though he gave a bigger nod to property tax cuts than sales tax cuts. “Property tax relief is important to Texas, and property taxes are too high in Texas.”

On his key issues, Abbott said he is happy with the Legislature’s progress. He said the House and Senate budgets are close; border security legislation is just a question of how much to spend; and his staff continues to work with lawmakers to pass ethics legislation.

“We’re reaching agreement on virtually every meaningful issues that we’re dealing with some small gaps to close,” Abbott said.

(Photo: Governor Greg Abbott/By Bob Daemmrich)

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