Governor Greg Abbott has vetoed the portion of the state budget bill that would fund the Texas legislature.
The action came after Abbott threatened to do so in late May, after the legislative session came to an abrupt end when members of the Texas House Democrats left the chamber, causing bills to expire, including including a bill on electoral reform which he strongly favored.
“Texans aren’t running away from a legislative fight, and they’re not shying away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement late Friday. “Funding should not be given to those who left their jobs prematurely, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session. I therefore oppose and disapprove of these credits. “
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The budget is due to go into effect September 1. Abbott is expected to push back the voting restrictions bill in a special session.
“Texas has a governor, not a dictator or an emperor,” Democratic House caucus chair Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said in a statement after the veto. “The tyrannical veto of the legislature is the latest indication that Governor Greg Abbott is simply out of control.”
In addition to slashing legislators’ monthly salaries by $ 600, Abbott’s veto on Section 10 of Senate Bill 1 also cuts the budgets of thousands of employees of agencies that support Capitol Hill efforts, including legislative staff, support services, legislative budget board, board and auditor’s office.
“By setting a termination date for the employment of all legislative staff, the governor is cutting services to millions of Texans,” Turner said, adding that the caucus was exploring all options, including legal action.
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Abbott said last week he would bring lawmakers back to Austin for a special legislative session in September or October for the redistribution after the census data was released in August and to allocate about $ 16 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. . The governor has indicated that he expects lawmakers to pass the Elections Bill and legislation to change the state’s bail system when they meet again in a meeting. previous extraordinary session not yet scheduled.
The electoral measure, known as Senate Bill 7 in the regular session, would end drive-thru voting and night voting, and it would limit early Sunday voting and postal voting. Democrats said it would disproportionately affect black, Latino and older voters; Republicans say the measure would protect the integrity of elections and reduce the possibility of voter fraud.
In a June 2 interview with the USA TODAY Network, Abbott said lawmakers could restore legislative funding in a special session before the two-year budget begins on September 1. This means that if Democrats boycott the Special Election Session again, thwart its passage again, Abbott’s spending veto would remain and no one working in the legislative branch of government would be paid after September 1. .
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House Speaker Dade Phelan R-Beaumont told the Texas Tribune on Friday that a veto over the entire legislature budget would hurt the wrong people while lawmakers, whose salary of $ 600 a month is enshrined in the Texas Constitution, would still get their paychecks. .
“My concern is how this affects the staff, especially those who live here in Austin, which is not a cheap place to live and raise family and children,” said Phelan, a former staff member. legislative, at the Tribune. “And the agencies that this has an impact – Sunset, Legislative Reference Library, Lege Council – I’m just concerned about the impact this has on them because they weren’t the ones who decided that we were going to break the quorum, this wasn’t their decision, was it? “
Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, is among those who question the constitutionality of Abbott’s veto.
Abbott’s irresponsible veto on funding for the legislative branch of state government is political theater with serious consequences for> 2,000 state employees who help #txlege members do their jobs, and threatens also our democratic form of government based on 3 equal branches, ”Howard tweeted.
But the Tribune reports that courts in other states have upheld vetoes on the legislative budgets of governors on both sides. Two states, Hawaii and Michigan, have constitutional laws that prohibit governors from vetoing or reducing legislative or judicial funds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas does not.
About this story
This article includes papers from the Texas Tribune, a non-partisan, nonprofit media organization that educates – and engages with – Texans about public policy, politics, government and issues nationwide. ‘State.