Pauken cited a Western Civilization program developed by Professor Rob Koons at the University of Texas. That program won praise from all over, even from the New York Times, but leftist professors killed it. Pauken says Gov. Perry could have made a call or two and saved the program, but did not, so Pauken took it upon himself to call Chancellor Kent Hance at Texas Tech University. Koons’ lauded Western Civ program has survived at Tech, over the objections of some leftist professors there.
“But that’s leadership,” Pauken says.
“I see the folks in Austin, the sound bites are there, the publicity gimmicks, it’s easy to say you’re against Obamacare, or you’re for the Second Amendment, you’re pro-life, we’re all that,” Pauken says. “But what are we doing in terms of real leadership to advance, here in Texas, the principles of our philosophy?”
To that question, some in Austin are likely to point to Texas’ gaudy economic record. It’s at the top of the heap in every list of best states for business, to buy a home, and near the top on several regarding overall quality of life. Its tax burden remains low despite mandates from Washington. They might also point to the sheer number of businesses and families relocating to Texas every year.
Pauken sees a similar lack of leadership on the state’s notorious school finance system. Under current mandates, public schools are funded by local property taxes but richer districts have to help fund poorer districts. The system has earned the name “Robin Hood” because it takes $1.1 billion from the richest 374 districts, and gives it to the poorer districts.
“That’s the principle of the French Revolution, not the American Revolution,” Pauken says, adding that he fought it when Gov. Ann Richards tried to impose it. School funding has been a thorn in Texas politics for decades.
Pauken says that as attorney general, Abbott could have fought Robin Hood, but didn’t. He says he has a better way to fund the poorer districts without Robin Hood’s system that harms local control. He says as governor he would eliminate Robin Hood altogether in favor of a different funding system.
“I would say, get rid of the $1.1 billion statewide property tax, which is what I think it is, and replace it with a slight increase in the sales tax, which would be one quarter of one percent, and then everybody is paying for it, not just taking from some districts and giving it to others. I believe local property taxes should stay local.”
He also chided current leadership’s effectiveness on border security. He says that rather than “depending on Janet Napolitano” to secure Texas’ border with Mexico, he would take $15 million from the state’s emerging technology fund and apply that money to border security to do two things: Enhance border security technology, and build up a “major intelligence unit” that would address the cartels and gangs that operate across the border.
“My opponent has been attorney general for 10 years. He’s done zero on this issue,” Pauken said. “Now he’s suddenly talking about it as though he’s going to do something as governor, why didn’t he do something as attorney general?”
This only the beginning of the war of words that’s sure to follow. Pauken brought up the state’s running battles with the Obama Environmental Protection Agency and over the state’s voter ID law as examples where he would handle things differently than Abbott. He says he would bring in a “conservatism of the heart” that takes into account the fact that a university degree isn’t for everyone, and vocational education has a vital role to play. He warns that if the Texas GOP remains a “top-down party of elites” as he sees it now, the Democrats could deliver a “nasty surprise” within five years.