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Lone Star Project Report

LSP Research: Abbott’s Odd State of the State

Abbott lists his failures as Governor
While there was nothing particularly notable about the delivery of Greg Abbott’s State of the State address, the substance was remarkable.  Strip away his rhetoric and Abbott provided a laundry list of his own failings and shortcomings as Governor.
 
Our Lone Star Project research division has closely followed Greg Abbott’s official and political actions for years and compiled an extensive record – much of it shared through our Abbott Files.
 
We’ve read through Abbott’s State of the State speech and cited specific examples where Greg Abbott brings attention to his own failures, though cynically camouflaging his actions in rhetoric intended to pass blame to others.
 
Bulletproof Texas economy is not Abbott-proof
Abbott: “Our national and international rankings continue to rise. We are now second in the number of Fortune 500 companies. And with your help, we'll soon be No. 1.
 
“And as Comptroller Hegar noted, if Texas were its own country we would now be the 10th largest economy in the world. Our economy is larger than Australia, Canada and even Russia.”

The Texas economy has fallen behind under Greg Abbott’s watch. Here are the facts:
Abbott’s CPS negligence
Abbott: "You will cast thousands of votes this session. Few will involve life or death decisions. Your vote on CPS is one of them.
 
"Last year, more than 100 children died in our Child Protective System.

"You can vote to end that."

The first duty of public servants is to keep Texans safe – especially our children.  Greg Abbott failed his solemn duty by making a broken Child Protective Service (CPS) system even worse. After Abbott took personal responsibility for reforming CPS, children died at a higher rate than before he weighed in:
 
  • FACT: Abbott’s reforms last year have done nothing to protect Texas children, and have possibly made things worse. The Dallas Morning News wrote, “despite Abbott’s heavy hand, Child Protective Services has been in a state of perpetual crisis under his watch and, by nearly every metric, has gotten worse at protecting children.”
  • FACT: Under Abbott’s watch, the rate of Texas children who have died or been neglected has been on the rise, according to the Dallas Morning News, “Data obtained through an open records request shows that more Texas children died of abuse and neglect since the governor's office began applying pressure on the agency to improve last year. In fiscal year 2016, at least 202 Texas children died because of maltreatment, compared with 173 the year before. That toll will probably rise as the state reviews 123 more fatalities.”
Abbott’s border boondoggle and DPS deceptive data
Abbott: "At the same time, we must continue our efforts to help secure the border.

[…]

"My budget continues the investment made last session, including funding for DPS troopers and the National Guard.

"Texas will not flinch in our resolve to keep Texans safe."

The $800 million dollar DPS border package signed by Abbott last session has devolved into a boondoggle. Press reports detail that even the data used to measure the success of the program has been flawed, and there are concerns that the program jeopardizes public safety efforts in other parts of the state.  One of the only measures of success is an increase in traffic citations.
 
Abbott’s pre-K “fool’s gold” standard
Abbott: "You brought high quality standards to a Pre-K system that desperately needed meaningful improvement.
 
"So, I’m perplexed by the budgets submitted by the House and Senate. They nod in the direction of Pre-K, but they turn a blind eye to the goal of achieving high-quality Pre-K.

"Do your constituents know that each session you vote to spend about $1.5 billion on unaccountable Pre-K?
 
"The purpose of high-quality Pre-K is to set high standards, evaluate them and eliminate what doesn’t work."

Abbott campaigned promising high quality pre-K for our youngest Texas students, calling his program a “gold standard”.  He traveled the state making high-flying promises to Texas parents. Barely a year after signing the pre-K reform bill, Abbott’s plan has quickly turned out to be" fool’s gold".
 
Abbott won’t clean up his own corruption closet
Abbott: "Voters deserve to know if officials are working for themselves or the people who elected them.

[…]

"I am once again declaring ethics reform an emergency item."

Abbott and ethics are simply incompatible—time and again Abbott has been caught up in pay-to-play and contract scandals. Abbott’s questionable history of using his office to reward donors and his failure to identify key areas in need of reform caused his ethics package to fail last session, and will likely spell an end to his reforms this session: