State Lieutenant Governor wants better public education, greater religious liberty

Lauren Florence

State Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said he is not biased towards a particular presidential candidate but wants a president who, even if they’re not from Texas, loves Texas, supports securing the border and embraces the oil industry.

Patrick spoke Friday at Hogg Memorial Auditorium as the opening speaker for the Texas Tribune Festival about issues including increasing public education funding, protecting religious liberty, increasing voter turnout and supporting open and campus carry.

University President Gregory Fenves introduced Patrick and said he hopes to expose students to various ideas across this community and vigorously debate the challenges that we face.

"One of my goals at the University of Texas is to demonstrate our University’s role in civil engagement, in public engagement,” Fenves said. “That really is the fundamental role of a university, and the legacy that I see the University of Texas holds for the state of Texas.”

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, asked Patrick if the set start date for campus carry, Aug. 1, 2016, was chosen deliberately, since it falls on the anniversary of the UT Tower shooting in 1966 that killed 16 people. Patrick said until that moment, he hadn’t been aware that the date was the same.

Patrick said increased public education funding and putting more emphasis on quality teachers will create more successful students. He said, however, that college isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with a blue-collar job.

“My focus is on making sure that every student graduate prepared for a job or college. We have devalued blue-collar work so much in this country,” Patrick said. “Plumbers make more money than a lot of our kids graduating college with $100,000 debts and a B.S. degree in ‘BS.’”

Patrick said he supports protecting religious liberty and business owners’ rights to not be forced to participate in an event that goes against their values, such as a same-sex marriage. Patrick said if he was asked to deny his religious faith because he ran for office, he wouldn’t run for office at all.

"We are a Christian nation and state," Patrick said. "The country is in turmoil today because it has strayed away from those values."

Patrick addressed low voter turnout and said the low rates are just because people don’t care. He said there’s no need to make voting any easier, but people should learn more about who they’re voting for.