Inside Texas Politics: Greg Abbott interview

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Gov. Abbott sits down with Jason Whitely to discuss issues ranging from abortion to Uvalde, property taxes to his Presidential ambition

TEXAS, USA — As Governor Greg Abbott seeks to convince voters to send him back to Austin for a third term, the Republican can rattle off a long list of major conservative accomplishments during his tenure, from allowing Texans to carry firearms without a permit to a complete ban on abortion.  

And both issues are playing an outsized role in the race for Governor and the Republican incumbent recently sat down for a one-on-one interview with Jason Whitely to discuss them and many others.

At least one prominent conservative, state Senator Robert Nichols, recently said he would vote to add an exception for rape to Texas’ abortion law.

The Governor would not answer specifically whether he’d support a future exception for rape or incest, but he did tell us something that must be addressed is defining what it means to protect a mother’s life.

“And there’s been too many allegations that have been made about ways in which the lives of the mother are not being protected, and so, that must be clarified,” Governor Abbott said on Inside Texas Politics.  “We want to see if there are ways that we can make sure that the lives of both the mother and the baby can be protected.  That’s our focus.”

Abbott specifically mentioned doctors not taking care of some women with ectopic pregnancies and some cases of miscarriage.  But he says treatments for both are legal under the state’s abortion law.

Our skyrocketing property taxes and what can be done to bring them down is another subject taking up a lot of oxygen on the campaign trail.

Governor Abbott says lawmakers have added well over $10 Billion in additional funding for schools since 2019.  That, he claims, has helped to slightly lower the school portion of the tax rate in counties throughout the state. 

But that’s not been the case in Tarrant County in general and Fort Worth ISD in particular. 

That district told us that the state contributed 45% of the funding the district needed to operate in 2015.  By 2020, the district says that figure had dropped to 30%.  And for this year, the figure is 27%.

When we asked him if the funding formula will ever get back to parity, where the state provides half and property owners provide half, the Governor told us his ultimate goal is to eliminate the maintenance and operation component of the school district property tax bill.

He says he would accomplish this through a property tax reduction fund that already exists in the state of Texas. 

“Any time we have any session where we have any surplus, I want to continue to put money into that fund to reduce property taxes on an ongoing basis until that maintenance and operation component of school property taxes is completely eliminated,” said Abbott.

With the current surplus we’re enjoying, for instance, the Governor says he would use at least $13.5 Billion of it to further buy down property tax rates.

The aftermath of the Uvalde massacre continues to drag down the Governor’s approval ratings. 

Our recent poll, “Texas Decides,” a study of likely Texas voters and a joint effort between the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation (THPF) and Tegna Texas stations WFAA, KHOU, KENS and KVUE, found that 37% of Texans had a less favorable view of Governor Abbott after the tragedy.  33% said they had a less favorable view of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which had 91 troopers on scene that day.

We asked the Governor if he would fire Steve McCraw, the agency’s director.

“Any hiring or firing decision will be based upon the evidence.  And we’ve got to get to the evidence, get to the bottom of exactly what happened to see who is accountable and why they did wrong,” Governor Abbott told us.

In terms of the race itself, our poll also found Governor Abbott leading Democrat Beto O’Rourke by 7% (51% to 44%) among likely voters.  Among most likely (almost certain) voters, the lead grows to 10% (53% – 43%).  1% of voters in both categories (likely/most likely) says they’ll vote for Libertarian Mark Tippetts and Green Party candidate Delilah Barrios.

RELATED: Race for Governor: Full interview with candidate Beto O’Rourke

The election will be held November 8.  Early voting starts October 24. 

Governor Abbott discussed many other topics in our wide ranging interview, including whether he has any Presidential ambitions if he wins re-election. Listen to the Republican’s full Inside Texas Politics interview to learn more.

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