WACO, Texas — In a wide-ranging conversation, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick talked to 25 News this week.
Ahead of the 88th legislative session in a month, Patrick discussed everything from the border to school security with anchor Todd Unger
On the border, Patrick defended the state's Operation Lone Star, which has cost more than $4 billion dollars, as necessary given the federal government's response to the migrant surge.
"It's an interesting way to look at [something] when you have a serious problem and the border is a serious problem. If we weren’t there now, we would have thousands of more pounds of fentanyl and other drugs. We would have many more criminals, many more terrorists,” said Patrick.
The state has diverted funds away from other departments to fund the plan, drawing some scrutiny. There have also been issues with morale and personnel deaths.
“We are plugging the gap. If were to pull back and not do what we were doing with the thousands for national guard and other DPS troopers, and all the technology in the sky [...] it would be far worse,” Patrick said.
When the session convenes January 10th, Patrick said the biggest priority will once again be a focus on ERCOT and the state's power grid.
“We still need more power. We just have to do that. We have plenty of cheap, natural gas under the ground," he said. "Renewables are fine. They help the environment, help lower the cost of energy, but we don’t have enough dispatchable power. That means when we turn on the light switch, the lights come on. When you turn on your AC or furnace, it comes on because it’s reliable.”
When pressed on whether enough has been done to reform ERCOT, Patrick said 'No' and stressed that's why it'll be a top issue.
The Republicans also said they'll look at more funding for school security in wake of the Uvalde tragedy, as well as more mental health resources and funding for rural parts of the state.
The mental health gap is something Milam County Chief Deputy Sam Ferguson recently stressed in exclusive interview about being shot in the line of duty.
Patrick pushed back against the idea the state's current abortion laws are "too vague," and said he had not heard directly from Gov. Greg Abbott about perhaps amending them to clarify measures to protect the life of the mother.
Current law outlaws abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, unless the health of the mother is at stake, something that still isn't clearly defined.