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Patrick And Dewhurst Both Stick By Claims Found To Be False Or Incomplete

Daniel Kramer/Michael Stravato
Texas Tribune
Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst will face each other in a runoff race for the GOP lieutenant governor nomination.

As lieutenant governor candidates David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick head into a May 27 runoff election, both are standing behind comments they made last fall, even though a fact-checking group has decided some of what they said is false or misleading.

Sen. Dan Patrick Claim On In-state Tuition

  In October Dan Patrick’s campaign said in a video ad:

“Dan Patrick is the only candidate to oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.”

That implied, of course, that incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and two other primary opponents, had not opposed the tuition benefit which state lawmakers gave to undocumented students in 2001.

PolitiFact Texas Editor Gardner Selby says Patrick’s claim when applied to Dewhurst was false.

“He (Dewhurst) was opposed at the time Dan Patrick spoke and Dan Patrick should have known about it.  David Dewhurst had given an interview in September of 2011 saying I would not have signed it into law,” said Selby.

Neither Dewhurst nor Patrick were in the Senate in 2001 when most Republicans voted to pass the in-state tuition benefit.   But a decade later, in 2011, Dewhurst was presiding over the Senate when Patrick was co-author on a bill to repeal in-state tuition.

When the bill came to the floor for a vote, however, Patrick had nothing to say.

“It’s a little surprising that someone advocating a position doesn’t choose to speak on it when it’s center stage, even for a few minutes,” said Selby.

The bill failed. 

Bottom line, PolitiFact says Patrick’s claim was false because Dewhurst had openly opposed in-state tuition for undocumented students.

But PolitiFact found the Senator can accurately make another claim: 

“He’s the only one among them who actually had filed legislation to repeal the provision,” said Selby.

When asked Friday whether Patrick sees the issue any differently now Patrick Campaign Manager Logan Spence said: “We stand by our statement because we are the only candidate who has done anything to repeal in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.”  He said Dewhurst as lieutenant governor could have done more.

Dewhurst has said he supports repealing in-state tuition but previous bills were futile because Gov. Perry would have vetoed them.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Claim On Tax Cuts

Dewhurst tax cut claims. Story on KERA radio.

  In an October 1, blog post Dewhurst made this claim:

"I have cut taxes 63 times, including a 2006 property tax reduction that ranks as the largest in state history."  

PolitiFact Texas and Editor Gardner Selby checked out the statement and found it left out some important information.

“There’s an element of truth but some critical facts that are overlooked,” said Selby.

First, PolitiFact found there were 54 tax cuts during Dewhurst’s decade as lieutenant governor not 63. 

Dewhurst is now using that lower number on his website and in a video ad where he says he helped create the state’s strong economy.

The second part of Dewhurst’s claim- that the 2006 property tax cut was the largest in state history- appears to be true. PolitiFact found it was a record-breaking tax cut.

But the claim does not reveal that lawmakers paid for that tax cut by raising other taxes.

They increased the sales tax on cigarettes and tobacco products, and levied a revised margins tax on businesses.

As for the other 53 cuts- most of them benefited specific groups. 

They included a homestead exemption for fully disabled vets and sales tax refunds to providers of cable or internet access

The tax breaks included the addition of student backpacks to the list of school items exempted during the annual sales tax free holiday.  That was a savings of about $1.60 on a $20 backpack.

So, overall, it’s fair to say Dewhurst, as lieutenant governor played a leadership role in cutting taxes, but PolitiFact found the original claim was incomplete.

“There were tax hikes in this mix and school districts have gradually raised their maintenance and operation tax rates in intervening years. So if you thought you got a tax cut in 2006 you’re probably not thinking you have one anymore,” said Selby.

Dewhurst has revised his website to cite 54 tax cuts under his watch.

His campaign provided a list of legislation covered in the cuts and says it stands behind the statement that the 2006 property tax cut was the biggest in Texas history. 

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst Tax Cut Claims

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.