The Texas Governor’s Debate: Fact Checking Abbott, O’Rourke

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Voters in the state of Texas are now weighing who they think should become the next governor, following the only debate in the state this year in which both candidates wanted to participate.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) and former Congresswoman Beto O’Rourke (D) faced each other Friday night during the Nexstar governor’s debate, which covered topics such as abortion, gun control and the border. Before you cast your vote, here are some comments that needed more context or were incorrect.

Does El Paso Bust More Migrants Than Texas?

In a particularly awkward moment between the governor and O’Rourke, the two battled over the bus transportation of migrants to Democrat-run cities. The heated back and forth ended after O’Rourke suggested that Abbott’s rhetoric was such as to encourage violence.

Governor Abbott began sending busloads of migrants to sanctuary towns on the East Coast in April, saying it would ease the immigration burden on Texas cities. Texas spent more than $14 million on this, according to data obtained by Nexstar. That program was discussed on Friday during a discussion about the border.

“The fact is that the mayor of El Paso, a Democrat, the El Paso City Council, Democrats now carry more people than the state of Texas,” Abbott said Friday night. “And he is [O’Rourke’s] not call them.”

Beto O'Rourke and Governor Greg Abbott debate in Edinburgh.  Texas, on September 30, 2022 (Nexstar photo)
Beto O’Rourke and Governor Greg Abbott debate in Edinburgh. Texas, on September 30, 2022 (Nexstar photo)

A report published last week by El Paso Matters found that more than 38,000 people have been released by the El Paso Border Patrol Sector in the region since July 1. of those people had been bussed by the city of El Paso to other parts of the country during the same period.

El Paso Matters found that despite early comments from leaders that the bill for that transportation would be covered by the federal government, local taxpayers could lose $4.2 million.

Meanwhile, KXAN previously reported that on Aug. 18, the state paid more than $14 million to Wynne Transportation to transport more than 8,000 migrants from the state of Texas to other areas.

“It’s a completely different program, it’s apples and oranges,” O’Rourke refuted. “And I’ll tell you, this hateful rhetoric, this treating people like political pawns, talking about invasions and Texans defending themselves, that’s how people get killed at the Walmart in El Paso.”

Does O’Rourke want to punish the police?

It’s a claim that has become a central part of the governor’s campaign and is the subject of one of Abbott’s most prominent television commercials: Does Beto O’Rourke want to punish the police?

“Of course not,” O’Rourke said when asked by moderators. “And nobody does that. But let’s look at my record.”

The former El Paso city councilor and congressman pointed out that the El Paso Police Department received a 12% salary increase during his time on the council. He also referred to legislation pushing millions of extra dollars to the police in the state of Texas.

But Abbott, as he has done during his campaign, turned to comments O’Rourke made on a podcast shortly after George Floyd’s murder, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis:

“I think it’s really great that Black Lives Matters and other protesters have put this center stage to deposit these line items that have overmilitarized our police and instead invest that money in your community’s human capital, make sure you get the services , the help, the support, the health care that is needed to be healthy and not need police intervention,” O’Rourke said in 2020. “And then in some necessary cases, completely dismantling and rebuilding those police forces.” to build.”

“I want to fund law enforcement, fund education,” O’Rourke said Friday night.

Can the Governor Raise Property Taxes?

“There’s only one person on this podium tonight who has ever raised property taxes, and that’s Beto,” Abbott said during Friday’s debate. Taxes are, of course, a central topic of conversation for conservative Texans.

Is the governor’s statement correct? Technically yes. But that’s also because O’Rourke has served in local government, the only level of government in the state of Texas that has direct control over property tax rates.

That said, government policies and the amount of funding provided to local municipalities at the state level can affect how local lawmakers view property tax rates and the money they provide.

Pointing to that Friday, O’Rourke said total Texas real estate taxes are up $20 billion with Abbott in the governor’s office.

“You want more property taxes, elect Governor Abbott,” he said.

Are teachers making more money under Abbott?

Abbott claimed during the debate that he has increased wages for teachers in the state of Texas. O’Rourke disagreed and neither did the Texas State Teachers Association, who tweeted the following Friday night:

“Greg Abbott is lying about his track record of teacher salaries. He focused solely on funding public schools after his narrow margin win in 2018. Teachers are lagging behind the rest of the nation in teacher salaries and have less purchasing power than in 2019.”

A KXAN survey found that a record number of teachers have resigned in the past year in Texas.

“If we don’t make changes so that the salary schedule is pushed up, moved up and started where it should be, just like before, we will lose more and more teachers, and the real victims in this are the students,” he said. Rep. Dutton, D-Houston, to KXAN as part of that KXAN report.

Is Texas Leading The Nation In Rape Charges?

In a now widely publicized comment from Abbott, the governor said Texas’ decision not to allow abortion exemptions for rape or incest would be nullified because Texas would outlaw rape.

That was put forward by O’Rourke Friday, who said our state is leading the nation in rape crimes. While technically true, that data doesn’t necessarily paint an accurate picture.

FBI data shows that Texas has more reported rapes than any other state, with more than 13,500. That data is from 2020, the most recent the FBI has available. However, the data does not account for population and Texas is a large state.

If you adjust for population, it’s actually Alaska that has the most reported rapes per capita. Texas would fall to 15th in the nation, with 46 reported rapes per 100,000 people.

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