After eight full years as Texas Governor, Greg Abbott doesn’t have a signature achievement. The same problems Texans faced when he became Texas Governor remain unsolved. Many are much worse. Abbott has become expert at taking credit for the aspects of Texas success over which he has little control while deflecting blame for his utter mismanagement and failed leadership over major disasters and scandals that have left thousands dead.
Greg Abbott will deliver his fifth state-of-the-state address as the Legislature sits in regular session. His flat demeanor, passive nature, and refusal to face questioning from the press, legislators, or anyone else keep him in a political safe zone that serves his purposes but fails our state.
Abbott’s speech takes his passive-aggressive style to a new level. Instead of speaking from the Capitol in front of the Legislature, Abbott has decamped to a political bunker in San Marcos where he’ll speak while sequestered from the press, legislators, or anyone not handpicked by him or his handlers.
Abbott’s remarks will be safe, self-serving, and irresponsible. He’ll fail to substantively address some of our state’s biggest problems while giving misleading or outright false comments on others. And he’ll rely on passing time, a short public attention span, and the media’s need to move to other issues to protect him.
The Issues Abbott Will Dodge
Child Murders in Uvalde
Don’t expect Greg Abbott to find the courage to call the name of any of the children or teachers murdered in Uvalde, or any of the other 5 mass shootings that have killed 90 people on his watch. After the horrific Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018, Abbott said he had a responsibility to “make sure that this action is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas.” But gun deaths have surged 44 percent since he’s been governor. None of his blue ribbon panels, lip service laws, or public relations tours stopped kids from getting shot down at elementary schools or shoppers in El Paso from being slaughtered at a Wal-Mart.
Deaths of other Children Under his Watch
In 2015, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack called the Texas foster care system “broken” and unconstitutional. In 2017, while fighting the judge’s court order, Abbott declared Child Protective Services reform an emergency item and bragged about laws he would pass to fix the problem. Talk is as far as it went. Since then, the crisis has only gotten worse: over 100 foster children have died under state care since 2020 and Texas is still nowhere close to complying with the court mandate to improve the system.
Abandoning Rural Texas Education and Healthcare
The strongest and most reliable political support for Greg Abbott and other Texas Republicans comes from rural Texans. That hasn’t stopped Abbott from abandoning them on the issues most important to their day-to-day well-being: healthcare and their children’s education.
Rural hospitals in Texas remain in crisis. 26 hospitals in 22 Texas communities in rural Texas closed since 2010. Instead of expanding Medicaid and bringing billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs into Texas like Governors in many other red states, Abbott is watching quality healthcare disappear and letting his most loyal supporters suffer.
And, Abbott will talk about “school choice,” “educational savings accounts,” and “parental rights” but he won’t concede that his plan is really a school voucher scheme designed to sabotage Texas’ public education system—taking money from already underfunded public schools and handing it over to unproven and unaccountable private and other for-profit schools that will especially be a gut punch to rural communities.
Issues Abbott Will Dishonestly Address
Bad Border Moves
There’s no doubt that the failure of Congress and at least the last five Presidents—Republicans and Democrats—to adopt comprehensive border reform has created a crisis on the border. Rather than working to be part of a solution, Greg Abbott has exploited the border for cheap political gain while making the situation even worse. He has spent billions in Texas taxpayer funds—much of it taken from other important law enforcement activities—to create a state-funded military presence.
Instead of increasing border security, Texas Guard soldiers have been put in harm’s way as political pawns. Low morale, unclear mission, and tragic suicides are the most tangible results of Abbott’s border escapade.
Political stunts—like the unannounced bridge crossing inspections that cost the U.S. almost $9 billion in just 10 days and bussing migrant children on Christmas Eve to Washington D.C. during deadly cold weather—display Abbott’s political clumsiness, incompetence, and cruelty far more than any concern for border safety.
And instead of admitting that he’s not been able to curb the fentanyl crisis, he’ll cynically and falsely pin the problem on illegal immigrants crossing the border at undisclosed locations—misconstruing the issue for his own political gain while students overdose in Dallas suburbs.
Don’t Trust Abbott When He’s Talking Taxes
Texas has a nearly $33 billion budget surplus that Abbott is itching to take credit for using to give tax cuts. He’ll talk about it for sure. What he won’t say is that his plan would deliver chump change to Texas families while doling out the lion’s share to deep-pocket backers and favored special interests.
Pay particularly close attention to the details of any cut in property taxes. Even his fellow Republicans don’t agree with Abbott’s property tax plan that’s more brazen, short-sighted political posturing rather than smart state policy. A recent report detailed that the average benefit to Texas families will be about $300 per household–less than one month of utility bills, childcare, or a car payment.
Property taxes have gone up every year Greg Abbott has been Texas Governor. He’ll talk about big cuts, but expect the deliverables to Texas families to be small if anything at all.
Grid Is Still Not Fixed
If Uvalde best exposes Abbott’s incompetence and uncaring views on gun violence, Winter Storm Uri revealed his deadly failure to secure the grid and protect Texans lives during a natural disaster. Over 700 Texans died during the deadly freeze. Even though Abbott was deep into his second term as Governor, he had done nothing to assure the security of our State’s power grid instead leaving it to be exploited by energy and other Wall Street interests who used it as a source of profit.
After the last legislative session, Abbott declared “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.” But experts say the grid is still in trouble. What Abbott did secure was billions of dollars for his corporate energy cronies—some who have made $1 million contributions to his campaign—while forcing Texas families to cover the cost with a monthly surcharge on their energy bills.
A Slow Roll Presidential Campaign?
Greg Abbott is passive by nature and ultra-cautious—but he’s plenty ambitious. He and his handlers are surely thinking through the possibility of a long-shot presidential campaign. And, Abbott’s low-energy demeanor and nonthreatening personality might be attractive to Donald Trump as a potential running mate—think Mike Pence with less empathy and personality.
Texans need a Governor who is focused on addressing the real challenges in this state. Instead, we continue to be vulnerable to the deadly whims of Greg Abbott’s presidential delusions.