Abbott Announces Transition Plans; Border Security a Top Priority

Abbott Announces Transition Plans; Border Security a Top Priority

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor-Elect Greg Abbott wasted little time after his victory was announced Tuesday evening, sending out a press release announcing he would start the transition process on Wednesday. Holding a press conference in the Old Supreme Courtroom at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday morning, Abbott discussed his initial plans and made it clear that border security would be a top priority for his administration.

“It is an honor to have been elected Governor of the State of Texas,” Abbott began, but now was the time to put the election behind us and get to work. “The people of Texas elected me to do a job,” he added, and that starts today.

Abbott has already started the first round of meetings to prepare to take the office in January, including talking with Lieutenant Governor-Elect Dan Patrick earlier Wednesday morning. Abbott will meet with Speaker of the House Joe Straus later Wednesday, and has begun scheduling meetings with the various agency heads, to determine the “needs and priorities” of their agencies, as well as how their work can serve the needs and priorities of the State of Texas.

The first meeting on Abbott’s agenda Wednesday afternoon will be to meet with the Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek, to get up to date on the Ebola crisis. Dr. Janek is a member of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which Governor Rick Perry formed last month to address issues related to Ebola and other dangerous infectious diseases. Abbott acknowledged that the situation had “improved,” with no new cases diagnosed in Texas in the last few weeks, but “we can never let up, because of how deadly the disease is.” It was essential, said Abbott, to make sure that there is a structure in place to provide Texas hospitals with the protocols to deal with Ebola and similar diseases. “We will remain vigilant” about this threat, vowed Abbott.

Most major hiring decisions have not yet been made, but Abbott did announce that Daniel Hodge would head up his transition team. Hodge is currently the First Assistant Attorney General, which is the highest ranking office in the Attorney General’s office under the Attorney General. Hodge, a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, also previously served as Abbott’s Chief of Staff. Abbott praised Hodge’s leadership and experience, and expressed his confidence that he would lead an “effective and swift transition process.”

When asked about his top priorities as Governor, Abbott commented that he had been consistent in what he had communicated on the campaign trail, and would stand by what he had promised. “I was very clear and repetitive on what I wanted to achieve,” said Abbott, naming as his top three priorities keeping Texas number one in creating jobs, education, and border security. Regarding education, Abbott said that the key “starts with providing a solid foundation” at the pre-K level, as well as making sure students can read by the third grade. 

Other issues that Abbott mentioned include focusing on the state’s infrastructure needs, open carry, and reforming the Texas Enterprise Fund. Abbott said, “I’m happy Proposition 1 passed,” calling it a “funding mechanism that will help” Texas build much needed roads. Regarding open carry, Abbott, a staunch supporter of gun rights, noted that most other states allowed open carry. “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, then it’s good enough for Texas.” He vowed that if the Texas Legislature passes an open carry bill, he will sign it. Abbott was not yet willing to say that the Texas Enterprise Fund should be tossed out entirely, but expressed reservation at “government picking winners and losers.” “At minimum, the Texas Enterprise Fund needs to be thoroughly evaluated to determine if it is an effective enterprise,” he said, and, if not, “eliminate it.”

Border security was the topic that took up the most time at the short press conference. Abbott had frequently discussed his border security plan during the campaign, and mentioned that an important element would be passing a new tougher law against human smuggling. In response to a reporter’s question about whether Texas would follow Arizona’s lead and pass a similarly strict anti-illegal immigration law, Abbott pointed out that the United States Supreme Court had tossed out Arizona’s law, so that was not an option, but it was not an option to accept the status quo, with many failures by the federal government causing harm to Texas’ economy and security.

Abbott also shared his thoughts on how he believed border security issues had affected Tuesday’s elections, in which Republicans regained control of the United States Senate, as well as making gains in the House and Governor’s races around the country. “A message was sent by Americans last night,” said Abbott, “Americans want people in office to address their priorities,” and border security is not just a high priority for Texans. “I think the message Americans sent was that they want government officials doing everything they can to secure the border,” said Abbott, “as opposed to all the things we see Democrats and President Obama and Harry Reid doing,” infringing on Americans’ liberties.

As First Lady, Cecilia Abbott will have a small staff to assist her with her official duties serving the State of Texas. Abbott staffers told Breitbart Texas that no decisions had been made yet regarding Mrs. Abbott’s staff but would be announced soon. She will be Texas’ first Hispanic First Lady when her husband is sworn into office in January.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker


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