Throughout the last few years, Texans have faced a series of challenges that have not been addressed in a responsible manner because the state Republican Party prefers to focus on culture wars rather than real-world issues like the pandemic and our compromised electric grid. Texas desperately needs real leadership to guide us through these challenges.

Leadership is about hope, not fear. We need less ego and more humility. State government should focus on education, jobs, health care, public safety, and a government that can provide basic services at a reasonable cost without political infighting.

Joe Straus has always taken a pragmatic approach to dealing with the challenges in our state while refraining from reacting to the partisan dog whistles that seem to get louder each year. He is the leader our state needs.

As Speaker of the Texas House, Straus kept the House focused on our public education system, which educates more than 5 million students. He helped lay the foundation for the transformative public education funding plan passed in 2019 and continues to advocate for policies that strengthen the Texas public school system.

Straus has been steadfast in his support for Medicaid expansion as a smart business decision for Texas government. Republican leadership in Texas has refused to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion based on a spurious and outdated argument against Obamacare. Straus has argued that Texas should stop refusing federal dollars that Texas taxpayers have paid into the system, and leverage federal dollars to reduce the burden of health care costs for the uninsured that now rests on Texas taxpayers.

Straus supports securing Texas’ water future by building innovative solutions for future generations and holding Mexico accountable for its obligation in the 1944 U.S.-Mexico water treaty.

Straus would address the crisis on our border with long-term solutions. The border issue is a major security, health, and immigration challenge. Texas leadership needs to go to Mexico City and start working on portals to deal with legal immigration opportunities for our labor shortages and a strategy to deal with security and health issues.

It is hard to fathom Straus using Texas legislative staff as a pawn in a political game in the way Gov. Greg Abbott did earlier this summer when he vetoed Article X, the section of the state budget that funds legislative staff salaries. This was a move intended to hold the Legislature hostage, requiring the House and Senate to return to restore the funding in the budget but only after passing a list of red meat priorities, most of which amount to bad public policy. Straus would not use legislative staff as a political tool to accomplish his agenda.

Just imagine, for a moment, the kind of Texas we could have under Gov./Lt. Gov. Joe Straus. It would mean focus on real issues facing Texans without the political nonsense, governance with pragmatism and civility. Straus would consistently do the right thing, rather than governing in fear of losing reelection, something we see far too often in state leadership today.

We need leadership that will bring us together not divide us further along political, ideological, and economic lines. We need Straus’ steady hand to lead our state forward. My hope is that by the time you are reading this, Straus has announced his candidacy for statewide office.

Lyle Larson

Lyle Larson is a member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 122. He is a lifelong San Antonio resident.