(Texas Tribune) -- The five Dallas police officers killed in July would still be alive if the Black Lives Matter movement didn't exist, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Saturday, and he does not regret criticizing protestors for organizing the march against violence that ended in tragedy.
Patrick was widely criticized after the deaths when he called protesters “hypocrites” for rallying against the same law enforcement officers that were providing security in downtown Dallas. He said he was exhausted and, in retrospect, might have chosen better phrasing.
“No excuses because I don’t take back anything I said, by the way,” he told Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey during an onstage interview at the Texas Tribune Festival. “I used the wrong word. Condemn me if you want.”
Patrick’s remarks came with the country once again in the throes of controversy after fatal shootings by police officers in Tulsa and North Carolina. Patrick said he believes that data on police shootings doesn’t indicate that minorities are targeted by police officers more than whites.
“We’ve had 852 police shootings this year and 218 were black individuals,” he said, adding that the solution to the problem was to lift people out of poverty.
“What’s the long-term solution? Giving people hope by giving them a job, by giving them a quality education, by giving them the choice of finding the best school for them,” he said.
The remarks came during an hour-long conversation during which Patrick reiterated his promise to end a state tuition-aid program designated to help needier students pay for college.
On higher education, Patrick lambasted some state colleges and universities for paying some employees six-figure salaries while raising tuition and unfairly burdening students.
Patrick has said since April he intends to pass legislation reining in tuition rates, including a vow to gut a requirement that all four-year colleges set aside a percentage of the tuition payments they receive to help needier students afford college.
“Did y’all know that about 15 percent of your tuition goes to help other students?” he asked the audience.
Patrick has said that needier students will still qualify for aid and be able to attend college but that the help should come from the state’s coffers and not from other students who might also pay interest on that aid for years if they take out loans.
When pressed on how lawmakers would pay for the initiative, which would have to make up for about $250 million the current tuition help provides, Patrick was vague.
“You don’t have to always grow the budget,” he said. “We’ll find the money because ... we want to give students in need help.”
But Patrick did say that placing greater restrictions on what university research dollars can be spent on would be part of the solution.
"You just can’t have everything you want, and say you know what, we’ll just pay for it," he said. “I don’t want to pay an English professor with research dollars, and give them half a semester off, to write a book about the love life of William Shakespeare that no one cares about and no one is going to read."
At the beginning of the program, Patrick also once again shot down speculation that he might run for Gov. Greg Abbott's job in two years, saying he had no interest in that post or in any other higher office, including U.S. Senate.
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