The Texas lieutenant governor is among the most powerful posts in state government, commanding  significant influence in shaping debate on bills bubbling up in the Senate as well as those crossing over from the House. A strong lieutenant governor can keep lawmakers on track; an ideologically driven one can derail debate.

For this reason, we recommend Democrat Mike Collier, 57, a corporate accountant from Humble and a former Republican, over Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican. Collier could provide strong fiscal leadership and a collaborative tone conducive to addressing the state’s complex challenges.

Last session, Patrick, 68, consumed valuable legislative time and energy with a divisive bathroom bill, which would have restricted restroom use based on biological sex and undone local anti-discrimination ordinances protecting the rights of transgender Texans. Businesses statewide warned that this measure would be bad for the state’s economic future. Nonetheless, Patrick unsuccessfully pursued the measure in both the regular session and a special session. He has also hinted that the subject could be up for reconsideration when lawmakers return in January.

The debate siphoned attention from reforming the state’s property tax and school financing systems, which are crucial to Texas’ long-term economic well-being.

Collier promises to pursue three top priorities: closing corporate tax provisions that allow some companies, unlike homeowners, to pay less than fair market value; expanding state Medicaid coverage to draw down additional dollars from the federal government; and establishing an independent commission to reduce the impact of partisan gerrymandering. He also would use some dollars from the rainy day fund to shore up teacher retirement pensions.

Collier’s priorities are more in line with the state’s challenges than Patrick’s divisive social agenda and stopgap approach to the state’s finances. Collier opposes Patrick’s support for a cap on the rate of increase in local property taxes. Driving down the rate of property tax increases with an artificial cap would provide short-term relief to residential property taxpayers but also handcuff the ability of those jurisdictions to meet the needs of a growing state. The state needs leaders who will engage in a comprehensive discussion about how to lower property taxes to finance schools equitably.

Patrick has ducked calls to debate and is outspending Collier. However, Collier is the kind of Democrat whose reasoned, fiscally responsible approach to governing could appeal to moderate Republicans who share these values.

Collier is temperamentally moderate and a consensus-seeker. Lowering the temperature in the state Senate and getting back to issues that matter is something all Texans should embrace.

Read the full endorsement at DallasNews.com

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