Candidate Guide 2014: Texas Governor and Lieutenant Governor Elections

As a service to our members and supporters who care greatly about issues related to immigration, jobs and wages, education, and healthcare, La Union del Pueblo Entero presents this voter guide. The guide is meant to give a basic orientation on the positions of the candidates running for Governor and Lt. Governor of the state of Texas.

The positions included in this guide are compiled from official campaign sources, including campaign materials, responses to candidate questionnaires, candidate quotes and quotes from official candidate spokespeople. Sources are included after each position. In only once instance did we include a summary written by a reporter rather than the candidate or spokesperson. This was because we could not find official campaign materials on the subject that fit our space restrictions and we felt the summary was accurate and unbiased.

We remind readers that La Union del Pueblo Entero does not endorse or oppose any of the candidates for public office, and that candidates’ fitness for office should be judged on a variety of qualifications that go beyond the quotes and positions contained in this guide.

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The Candidates and Races

Greg Abbott (Republican) Wendy Davis (Democrat)
Abbott.png Davis.png

Responsibilities and Powers:

  • Approve or veto legislation
  • Commander-in-chief of state armed forces
  • Call a special legislative session for specific purposes
Lieutenant Governor
Dan Patrick (Republican) Leticia Van de Putte (Democrat)
Patrick.png VandePutte.png

Responsibilities and Powers:

  • President of the state Senate
  • Appoint chair and members of legislative committees
  • Set the order in which legislative proposals will be considered

Expanding Driver’s Licenses

Does the candidate support the expansion of eligibility for a driver’s licenses to those who cannot provide a currently required immigration document but who can prove they are residents of Texas?

Greg Abbott: "There are problems with regard to the conflict that these laws would have with the federal real id act. We saw that come into play when we did have another state that tried to create these drivers licenses in the form of California. The U.S. department of justice rejected California’s attempt to create these licenses. I think it is simply unworkable because of the conflict with federal law." (Source: First candidate debate)

Wendy Davis: "I believe that everyone who is on the road should have a driver’s license and should be insured. Other states have found a way to make this happen, even for undocumented immigrants in their community. Far too often as a public servant I have been told about incidents where people have been in an accident with an uninsured driver. As Arizona does, Texas, I believe, should issue driver certificates for people who pass a driver’s test and prove that they have insurance. That is the safest way we can ensure that people who are driving on our roads are driving the right authority and with the right insurance." (Source: First candidate debate)

Dan Patrick: "Driving on Texas roads is a privilege that should not be available to people who have broken the law to be here." (Source: Associated Press candidate questionnaire)

Leticia Van de Putte: "The proof of proficiency and purchase of insurance is important to the safety of all Texans. I would support a bill similar to the bi-partisan bill supported last session by businesses and law enforcement that allowed undocumented residents to apply for a driver’s license after a background check and fingerprinting." (Source: Response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)

As a state senator, Van de Putte criticized Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) changing DPS rules to require all drivers license and identification card applicants to present proof of United States citizenship and/or lawful permanent residence, saying “As a state agency, DPS instituted this rule without legislative authority, as this type of rule-making authority falls within the Texas Legislature's purview.” She went on to say that “During the 80th Legislative Session, the Legislature made a conscious decision not to update the rules regarding the issuance of Texas Drivers Licenses pending the Department of Homeland Security's final rules on implementation of the Federal Real ID Act.” (Source: Senator's website)


In-State Tuition for DREAMers

Does the candidate support current state law that allows young undocumented immigrants, or “DREAMers,” to access in-state tuition if they graduate from high school in Texas? Would the governor candidate allow the law to be repealed or use veto power to keep in-state tuition for DREAMers in place?

Abbott: "Well, frankly… the goals of the law are noble. But to make clear, I think the law as it structured is flawed because the way that it is supposed to work is that a student is supposed to be showing that they are making progress toward establishing legal status. That simply is not being done." Moderator asked his question again. Would you veto a bill from the legislature that repeals the law, yes or no? Abbott responded: “Would I veto it? No.” (Source: Second candidate debate)

Davis: "I support the DREAM Act. And if there is any attempt to repeal [in-state tuition for Texas Dreamers] and I am sitting at the Governor’s desk, I will veto that attempt. It makes sense for our students; it makes sense for our economy to make sure that every student in Texas can be a successful part of our future." (Source: Second candidate debate)

Patrick: Dan coauthored a floor amendment to SB 1581 in 2011 that would have abolished in-state tuition... Dan Patrick is the only candidate for Lt. Gov. who has taken action to oppose in state tuition for illegal immigrants.
(Source: candidate’s website)

“In the Lt. Governor’s election, there are a lot of politicians talking tough on border security but I am the only candidate with a strong record including opposing in-state tuition and fighting sanctuary cities. Texans want our southern border secured and the social enticements to illegal immigrants to end. That is what I pledge to do as the next Lt. Governor.” (Source: candidate's website)

Van de Putte: "I proudly sponsored the passage of the Texas DREAM Act. I know that dreamers work hard, dream big and honor the sacrifices of their parents. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan law with support of the business community and Governor Rick Perry. As Lieutenant Governor I will protect that law." (Source: response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)

As the sponsor of the Texas Dream Act, Leticia understands how important it is to ensure that all Texans have an opportunity to succeed and play a part in supporting our economy. In 2001, Leticia passed the Texas Dream Act with overwhelming support from both political parties and the business community. It was signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Texas has made a significant investment in education of students brought here by no fault of their own. Leticia knows that the Texas Dream Act is our greatest chance to ensure the biggest return on our investment. (Source: Candidate’s website)

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Funding of Public Education

What is the candidate’s position on the $5.4 billion cuts to public education in the 82nd Texas Legislature? How will the candidate ensure that funding for Texas public education keeps up with population growth?

Abbott: "It is clear that one thing that needs to be done is to get beyond the school structure we had in the past. The school structure that was litigated in this case was based in part on systems that were created in the last century. What I want to do is to reinvent education and school in the state. My goal is to ensure that Texas has the number one-ranked high school and lower school education systems in the entire United States of America and we do that by focusing on the fundamental building blocks of education. I want to ensure that education begins with a strong foundation, all the way through third grade-- ensuring that students have the ability to read and do math at grade level by the end of third grade. But most importantly I want to put trust where it belongs and that is with our teachers. And get all these one size fits all mandates from Austin Texas off the backs of teachers." (Source: First candidate debate)

Davis: "In stark contrast to Mr. Abbott, I was in protest to $5.4 billion of cuts to our public schools. Mr. Abbott has been defending them in court ever since and each ruling goes in favor of our children and against Mr. Abbott. Mr. Abbott, these cuts and the cuts that you are defending that have left our classrooms overcrowded, that have left our teachers laid off, that is not liberal. That is not conservative. It is just dumb. It is shortchanging our children and selling out their future. As governor, I will make the education of our children a priority and I will fight to make sure that our schools have more resources, not less." (Source: First candidate debate)

Patrick: Dan is a school choice champion and has a proven record of defending our schools against the threat of CSCOPE and Common Core. Dan knows that these programs undermine the curriculum and standards established by our elected leaders. (Source: Campaign website)

Would consider some increase in funding for schools but only if there are requirements for improved results. He has also suggested a dramatic “tax swap” that would reduce school property taxes and increase the state sales tax to replace the revenue. (Source: Summary by Terrence Stutz, Dallas Morning News article, 28 September 2014)

Van de Putte: Leticia believes that every student, no matter where he or she lives, should be afforded the opportunity to reach his or her potential. Leticia knows that Texas cannot cut its way to being number one - especially in education. (Source: campaign website)

"I will ensure we fund enrollment growth. I will task the LBB and TEA to study the formula weights - last done in early 1980’s - and recommend changes.  I will eliminate the “regular program adjustment factor,” that allows the Legislature to undermine public school funding without public accountability." (Source: Response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)


Medical Coverage for All

Does the candidate support closing the coverage gap by accepting federal money that would expand Medicaid coverage to Texas residents with low incomes?

Abbott: "I will provide more access to more health care to more Texans. I have laid out a plan that ensures that we increase funding for women, we increase funding for veterans, we increase funding for the disabled, and we increase funding for mental health needs. What I will not do is what senator Davis will do. Senator Davis wants to expand Obamacare in the state of Texas and that is the last thing that we need because Obamacare is an abject failure. Obamacare and expanded Medicaid is bad for patients, it is bad for doctors, it is bad for taxpayers. You’ve seen the future of Obamacare with VA care. That’s how bad it is for patients. Doctors are fleeing both Medicaid and Obamacare because they simply cannot get paid and we cannot have access to health care without doctors." (Source: First candidate debate)

Davis: "Greg Abbott’s plan is that we will send $100 billion of our tax money to California and New York in the next 10 years. There is a reason that republican governors around this country have found a way that is right for their states to bring this money down. There is a reason that the chambers of commerce throughout this state including right here in the Rio Grande Valley have begged us to do the right thing and bring this money back to Texas to go to work for us and create the 300,000 estimated jobs per year that it will bring. Mr. Abbott is California’s best friend in Texas because he wants to continue sending our tax dollars to them. Of course, Mr. Abbott, California already has a governor, it does not need two." (Source: First candidate debate)

Patrick: Leticia Van de Putte continues to recklessly champion Obamacare, which has punished the business community and embarrassed the federal government since day one. Aligning herself with failed policies clearly proves she is more interested in currying favor with her friends in Washington D.C. than serving the people of Texas. Sen. Patrick will continue to seek flexibility and efficiency in order to provide the highest quality healthcare our fellow Texans deserve. (Source: Dan Patrick Spokesman quoted in the Texas Tribune and the SA Current)

Van de Putte: "I will work to find a “Texas Solution” to reduce the coverage gap. I will work with the Health and Human Services Commission to find ways to increase enrollment. I will open the lines of communication with our federal partners to find a Texas solution to expand Medicaid." (Source: Response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)

Leticia is committed to putting the needs of Texans before politics. Despite vocal support for Medicaid expansion from hospital districts, dozens of chambers of commerce, city and county governments, businesses, and thousands of citizens from across the state, Governor Perry rejected the opportunity to expand Medicaid eligibility. By refusing expansion, Texas will lose approximately $79 billion in federal matching funds over the next 10 years and leave millions of Texans without health care coverage. Leticia is determined to bring the brightest minds in the room, from state and federal government, to build a Texas solution that meets the needs of Texans. Leticia recognizes that the decision to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap is not only the right choice for the millions of Texans without health insurance, but it is also the right business decision. (Source: Campaign website)


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Jobs and Wages

Does the candidate support raising the state minimum hourly wage? Does the candidate support raising it above the poverty line level, which currently stands at $8.80 an hour for a family of three?

Abbott: "We don't need these Obama-style mandates telling businesses how to run their businesses. The one thing we know is that government does not know how to run business and proof of that is looking at the state of Texas itself. I know Senator Davis thinks that we need to have an increase in minimum wage here. Here is the lost fact -- 94% of the hourly wage jobs in Texas are paid at above minimum wage already. There is a reason for that and that is because Texas model works as it concerns job creation. What we need to do is get the government off the backs of businesses and let the free market do this. If you look at the wage growth we have seen in the state of Texas, the Federal Reserve says the greatest increases we have seen are in the top two quartiles in the wage category. We have top-paying jobs in Texas because we do not let the federal government tell us how to run our business." (Source: First candidate debate)

Davis: "I know what it is like to work as hard as you can and yet stand at the grocery stand check out and have to put food back because you do not have enough money to pay for it. Raising the minimum wage is not only good for Texas families; it is good for our economy. At $7.25 an hour, that is only $15,000 a year. That is not enough to support a family. It is good for Texas for us to raise the minimum wage and to provide an opportunity for families to provide for themselves as they so desperately want to do. Once again, my opponent is looking out for his insider friends, not for Texas families who would benefit if they have worked a hard day's work. They deserve a fair pay." (Source: First candidate debate)

Patrick: "Throughout my entire legislative career I have been a staunch supporter of businesses and the jobs they create. During the recession, I helped pass the biggest tax cut in the nation because I believe businesses are the backbone of our economy. As, Lieutenant Governor, I will continue to champion economic prosperity and the entrepreneurial spirit that helps keep Texas leading the nation in job creation." (Source: Campaign website)

When asked by the Texas Tribune for a response to Van de Putte’s comments about increasing the minimum wage, a Patrick spokesman said “Senator Patrick is looking forward to debating his opponent on Sept. 29.” He did not address the subject during the debate. [Author’s note: The above quote in a Texas Tribune article is the only reference to minimum wage that we could find from the Patrick campaign. The campaign did not return our questionnaire asking the candidate's position on the issue.]

Van de Putte: "Yes. While economic growth around the Eagle Ford Shale has raised average pay in those areas, many have been left behind. I would remove the prohibition on municipalities to establish a minimum wage higher than the state so they can respond to local cost of living and housing markets." (Source: Response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)

"We know that people who live off of minimum wage live a poverty-ridden life. Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy." (Source: Univision San Antonio town hall)


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State and Local Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement and Border Enforcement

Abbott: "I applaud Governor Perry for providing the decisive leadership needed to address this crisis. Make no mistake: This is more than a border crisis – this is a national crisis affecting communities and taxpayers across the country. This crisis is a public safety priority, and deploying the National Guard to the border is crucial to address the organized criminal activity by cartels and international gangs. Texas will put boots on the ground to secure the border, but we will expect the federal government to foot the bill." (Source: Attorney General statement on the National Guard going to the border)

"The Department of Public Safety will have the tools and resources it needs to curtail illegal smuggling, horrific human trafficking and cartel imported crime. Securing the border will reduce the illegal activity which – in turn – will promote the legitimate trade that helps make Texas the leading exporting state in the country." (Source: Attorney General statement on the DPS border surge)

Davis: "Federal border agents and facilities are overwhelmed trying to address this human crisis instead of focusing on their first priority to secure our border from drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists. You [Governor Perry] took a solid step, which I support, to address that by increasing support to the Department of Public Safety to help along the border." (Source: Letter from Senator Davis to Governor Perry re: the child refugee crisis)

"If the federal government won't act, Texas must and will. However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for, rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests" (Source: campaign website)

Patrick: Since arriving in the Texas Senate in 2007, Dan Patrick has authored and sponsored countless bills to secure the border while his [Republican primary] opponents have only contributed to the problem. Dan’s bills included requiring e-verify of employers, punishing coyotes that smuggle people across the border, repealing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants as well as prohibiting sanctuary cities… Texas voters are very concerned about the impact of illegal immigration on their personal safety as well as the Texas economy. Dan Patrick will make securing the border a priority and will repeal the social enticements that draw them to Texas. (Source: candidate's website)

“Law enforcement should be able to ask if a person is here illegally if they have probable cause to believe they may be.” Houston Sen. Dan Patrick introduced legislation to forbid cities from deprioritizing immigration law enforcement. (Source: Response to an Associated Press questionnaire)

Van de Putte: "I will work with DPS, our federal law enforcement partners and local leaders on the border to determine the best way to secure the border while maintaining it’s economic growth. I am open to creating an oversight body to ensure that DPS puts the interest of Texans first." (Source: Response to LUPE candidate questionnaire)

"Law enforcement officers have consistently called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform so they can focus on human and drug trafficking and cross-border gangs, not on those who are seeking service industry jobs… Police chiefs and law enforcement officials around the state were outspoken in their collective opposition to legislation that would require them to enforce federal immigration laws… I believe employers should perform due diligence in verifying that a potential employee has legal status to work in this country. However, I oppose requiring employers to utilize programs such as E-verify due to the flaws in that program." (Source: Responses to an Associated Press questionnaire)

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