Democrat Leticia Van de Putte told her party’s state convention her Republican opponent for lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, is so out of step, he stood alone against a program to help veterans.
Van de Putte, of San Antonio, and Patrick, of Houston, both are members of the 31-member Texas Senate.
In her speech, Van de Putte declared she’s watched Patrick’s Senate votes. "I mean," Van de Putte said, "Dan was the only vote, the only one in the entire Senate who voted against the Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, a program that assists veterans in successfully starting up their own businesses. That’s not putting Texas first."
We wondered about this program and whether Patrick indeed was alone in opposition among the senators.
On Van de Putte’s behalf, Manny Garcia, a Texas Democratic Party spokesman, pointed out by email that according to the state’s Senate Journal, which tracks Senate actions, Patrick voted April 18, 2013, against approval of a proposal related to the creation of the veteran entrepreneur program by the Texas Veterans Commission. According to the journal, Patrick asked to be recorded as voting against even taking up Senate Bill 1476. Patrick then voted against preliminary and final approval of the measure, according to the entry, which advanced to the House by a 29-1 margin; one senator was absent, according to the journal.
To our inquiry, Patrick’s campaign manager, Logan Spence, emailed us that Patrick voted against the proposal "because it expanded the state's bureaucracy with a new function that would be more efficiently absorbed in a different agency." Separately, the non-partisan House Research Organization said in its May 2013 description of the proposal that opponents considered the legislation "unnecessary because it would spend state dollars for assistance already offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Patrick wasn’t the only legislator to oppose the measure.
According to legislative records, Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, was the "no" vote on the proposal when it cleared the House Committee on Military & Veterans Affairs by 7-1. And on May 14, 2013, five House members asked to be recorded as voting against preliminary approval of the legislation, according to the House Journal. House members gave their final approval by 125-19, the journal shows, but afterward, five members reported intentions to vote "no" even though they were recorded as voting "yes."
The proposal, signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, required the Texas Veterans Commission to establish the "veteran entrepreneur program to perform outreach functions to improve veteran entrepreneurs' and business owners' awareness of federal and state benefits and services," according to an analysis by the Texas Senate Research Center.
The effort, which relied on lawmakers ponying up funding, was projected to cost more than $210,000 a year, according to the legislation’s fiscal note. By email, commission spokesman Duncan McGhee told us the program fielded about $257,000 in funding for the two budget years starting September 2013. Since the law took effect, he said, it has helped nearly 1,300 veterans "toward entrepreneurship." Day to day, he said by phone, three staff people organize seminars around the state and give one-on-one business advice to veterans.
Van de Putte said Patrick was the only senator to vote against the Veteran Entrepreneurship Program.
Ten-hut! We rate this claim as True.