Inside Texas Politics: Interview with Greg Abbott

Governor Abbott sits down with Jason Whitely to discuss issues ranging from abortion to Uvalde, from property taxes to his presidential ambitions

TEXAS, U.S. — As Gov. Greg Abbott tries to persuade voters to send him back to Austin for a third term, the Republican can cite a long list of important conservative accomplishments during his tenure, from allowing Texans to carry firearms without a permit , to an absolute ban on abortion.

And both of these issues play an outsized role in the gubernatorial race, and the Republican incumbent recently sat down in a one-on-one with Jason Whitely to discuss them and many others.

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

The governor didn’t want to answer specifically whether he would support a future exception for rape or incest, but he did tell us something that needs to be addressed defines what it means to protect a mother’s life.

“And there have been too many allegations of not protecting the mother’s life and that needs to be addressed,” Gov. Abbott said InsideTexas Politics. “We want to see if there are ways to ensure that the life of the mother and the baby can be protected. That is our focus.”

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

Our skyrocketing property taxes, and what can be done to lower them, is another issue consuming a lot of oxygen in the campaign.

Gov. Abbott says lawmakers have allocated well over $10 billion in additional funding to schools since 2019. This, he says, helped slightly lower the school portion of the tax rate in counties across the state.

But that was not the case in Tarrant County in general and Fort Worth ISD in particular.

This district informed us that the state provided 45% of the funding the district needed to operate in 2015. By 2020, that number had dropped to 30%, according to the district. And for this year it’s 27%.

When we asked if the funding formula would ever return to parity, with the state providing half and property owners providing half, the governor told us his ultimate goal was to eliminate the maintenance and operations component of the school district’s property tax bill .

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

“Any time we have a session where we have a surplus, I want to keep putting money into this fund to continually lower property taxes until that maintenance and operational component of school property taxes is completely eliminated,” Abbott said.

For example, with the current surplus we’re enjoying, the governor says he would use at least $13.5 billion of that to further lower property tax rates.

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

Our recent Texas Decides poll, a study of likely Texan voters and a joint effort by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation (THPF) and Texas Tegna stations WFAA, KHOU, KENS, and KVUE, found that 37% of Texans were less positive set were Governor Abbott’s view after the tragedy. 33% said they had a less favorable opinion of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which had 91 soldiers at the scene that day.

We asked the governor whether he would fire Steve McCraw, the agency’s director.

“Every hiring or firing decision is based on evidence. And we need to get to the bottom of the evidence, to get to the bottom of the events to see who is responsible and why they did wrong,” Gov. Abbott said.

Regarding the race itself, our poll also found that Gov. Abbott leads Democrat Beto O’Rourke at 7% (51% vs. 44%) among the likely voters. For the most likely (almost certain) voters, the lead grows to 10% (53% – 43%). 1% of voters in both categories (likely/most likely) say they will 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 take place on November 8th. Early voting starts on October 24th.

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

Laura Coffey

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