Lieutenant governor candidate Mike Collier builds momentum in Austin

Allyson Waller

When Mike Collier arrived in Austin on Wednesday to campaign for lieutenant governor, he said he felt eager to interact with Austin voters.

“This is where the fun begins,” Collier said.

The Democratic candidate focused on property taxes and public education in his talk at Scholz Garten. The former chief financial officer of a Texas oil company who previously ran for state comptroller in 2014, is challenging Republican incumbent Dan Patrick.

Collier said, unlike Patrick, he is a genuine proponent of public education and serious about property tax reform.

“(Patrick) is hostile to public education, and I am a champion of public education,” Collier said. “He’s responsible for rising property taxes, and he is deceiving us about it. I am honest about how property taxes work, and I will bring them down. I will not work for the big corporations. He is in their pocket.”

According to data Collier presented, in 2008 half of public education funding came from the state, while property tax payers paid the other half. However, Collier’s data showed that over time the amount of money the state gave towards public education significantly decreased, as the property taxes for homeowners significantly went up.

Collier said Texas lawmakers’ decision to institute a $5.4 billion cut to public education funding in 2012 could have been a catalyst for this occurrence. Collier said despite increasing property taxes, the amount of money invested in each Texas student has actually decreased.

“Don’t be angry at your school board,” Collier said. “Be angry at these guys down the street in the Capitol. They’re the ones (increasing) property taxes.”

Jen Ramos, board member of Texas Young Democrats, said even though she is not a homeowner, the state’s increasing property taxes still affect her rent.

“(The) majority of my friends are renters,” Ramos said. “A lot of us come from apartment complexes where we have to deal with astronomical rent. … The higher the property taxes go, the higher our rent gets.”

Government senior Robert Gonzalez said he hopes issues pertaining to the state and the national political climate will bring more people out to vote in the upcoming election in November 2018.

“I think that enough has happened over the past year, year and half, that people are beginning to realize on a deeper level the impact policy can have on their lives — not only adults but students (too),” Gonzalez said.