Beto O’Rourke criticizes Abbott in his visit to San Antonio


Bella Nieto

Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke at a campaign rally in San Antonio on Wed, Jan. 19.

Bella Nieto, Managing Editor

Gubernatorial candidate and former congressman Beto O’Rourke made his second visit to San Antonio since announcing his run for governor at the Friendly Spot Icehouse on Wednesday, Jan. 19.   

O’Rourke attacked Governor Abbott on his handling of public education in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. 

“We’re still in a pandemic where we’re asking parents to step up and substitute teach because their kid’s teachers are out sick with Covid,” O’Rourke said. “Public education under this governor, and in this state right now is not only not a priority, but those teachers feel that they’re at war with the person in the highest position of the public trust because, get this … This governor says, ‘If you want those children to wear a mask to prevent them from getting sick, I will prevent you from doing so.’”

To further his point, he cited the many instances in which teachers have had to go above and beyond their job description to do their job well and to make a living wage.  

“We’ve had far too many [teachers] who have left the profession because we’ve asked them to do the impossible. They’re already working a second, sometimes a third job to make ends meet,” O’Rourke said. “[Teachers] have to worry in the state of Texas because we just signed permitless carry into law and anyone with a loaded gun might walk through school doors, and for that child who they have sacrificed so much already … they may have to put their body in front of theirs. On top of all of that, they are held to high stakes, high-pressure standardized test[s] that in no way adequately measures the performance of that child.”

Another area where O’Rourke said he would deviate from Abbott is the expansion of Medicaid in the state. 

“Our current governor has left $100 billion in Medicaid expansion money on the table, every penny of which you have paid,” O’Rourke said. “In your federal income taxes, that is going to some other states which could be coming to us … We could also reduce our property taxes because when someone walks into that hospital and they make too much to qualify for Texas Medicaid today, not enough for the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act and cannot pay for the care that they receive … I and every other property taxpayer in this hospital district will.”

O’Rourke spoke on Winter Storm Uri and called out the governor on his failure to weatherize the power grid. 

“Last February in the energy capital of North America, we could not keep the lights on, or the heat on, or the water flowing,” O’Rourke said. “Pretty soon our pipes froze and then burst and flooded our homes, destroyed our drywall, forcing us to clean up the mess … Governor Abbott was warned that we had not weatherized the grid and we needed to make sure that we protected the gas supply, but instead of listening to the experts or to any of us, he listened to his donors: those willing to cut $1,000,000 checks to prevent any regulation or oversight.”

Ironically enough, O’Rourke mentioned the “Abbott Tax,” a colloquial term that refers to the increase in energy prices in the wake of Winter Storm Uri, just as the San Antonio City Council passed a rate hike for CPS Energy to offset its losses due to the power outages caused by the storm a few days prior. 

“I want you to look at your electricity bill at your home … Every month going forward you will see it increase over what you paid at this time last year,” O’Rourke said. “I just want you to know that what you’re paying is going up because of one man and one man only: Greg Abbott … These are the wages of our failure to elect people into positions of public trust who will deliver for all of us, those who will not listen to us, who do not trust us, who do not reflect our values and our priorities.” 

This week, the Texas Tribune reported that O’Rourke raised $7.2 million in his first six weeks of campaigning, opposed to Abbott’s $18.9 million in the last six months. In his speech, O’Rourke thanked his volunteers and contributors and pushed those listening to contribute and vote the current governor out. 

O’Rourke concluded his speech by emphasizing an imperative he has had since the start of his campaign — to include everyone in his effort regardless of party affiliation. 

“The things that we want to achieve make a lot of sense not just to Democrats, nor only to Independents,” O’Rourke said. “Public education, for example, is about all of us, and if we want a world-class system in this state, we’ve got to say it. You gotta campaign for it. We have to like our kids’ lives depend on it, because they do. We’ve got to win and then we’ve gotta get it done.”

We are reaching out to our friends, to our neighbors, to our family members, to our classmates, to our colleagues. Everyone is welcome. It is the only way that we’re going to win this and get Texas on the right track,” O’Rourke concluded.