We have held book signing events and discussions around the state over the last two months. We appreciate those of you who have been able to join us and especially those of you who purchased copies of How Things Really Work. At most events, people have had an opportunity to ask questions about the book and about my tenure in public office. Below are some highlights from these Q&A sessions.
Q: You were a successful businessman before entering politics. What made you decide to run?
A: A genetic flaw. My family has a long tradition of public service and I was interested in government. After serving as the Parliamentarian for Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey, I was even more interested in serving. I decided to run when I did because the seat was open (Ben Barnes was running for Governor) and I thought with it being an election after redistricting, there would not be many Senators seeking the job. I was wrong; about two-thirds of the Senate ran for the position, but I was happy to prevail.
Q: Do you think things are more partisan in today’s political environment than when you served, and do you think that is better or worse?
A: Absolutely, today’s environment is more partisan. When I served, we didn’t have Democratic or Republican Caucuses in Texas. I think that the “party line” and expectations that exist at both ends of the political spectrum get in the way of making policy decisions that best serve the needs and interests of all Texans.
Q: What was the toughest legislative challenge you faced as Lt. Gov?
A: We faced many contentious issues during my tenure – taxes, redistricting, education, budget shortfalls – but the most challenging was workers compensation.
Q: What was your greatest accomplishment as Lt. Gov?
A: As Lt. Governor, I did not pass the bills, but rather worked with the Senators to craft policies and negotiate compromises within the Senate and ultimately with the House and the Governor to pass legislation. I am proud of the work we did to improve education, both public and higher, as well as the progress we made with health and human services.
Q: What was your greatest disappointment?
A: The biggest mistake I made was in trying to change the date of the Texas presidential primary resulting in the Killer Bees.
Q: Do you have any advice for the next Texas Legislature?
A: Yes – The Legislature will consider thousands and pass hundreds of bills. The bill that really counts is the general appropriations bill. In that one bill, Legislators will decide how well Texans will be educated, regulated, imprisoned and medicated for the next two years. Spend every nickel you can on education. Every nickel you don’t spend now will cost dollars in the future for welfare and prisons.