Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) vetoed funding for the state legislature and its staff on Friday, carrying out on his threat to the Texas Democrats that staged a walk-out to block legislation on much needed election reform.
Last month, Democrats in the Texas House walked off the floor of the House chamber, breaking quorum and stopping Republicans from passing election reforms, as well as a bail reform legislation that Abbott in particular wanted, according to the Texas Tribune. After the staged walk-out, Abbott vowed to defund the legislative branch for “abandon[ing] their responsibilities.”
“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement on Friday. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session. I therefore object to and disapprove of those appropriations.”
Abbott vetoed Article 10 of the state budget approved by the legislature on Friday. Article 10 not only funds the lawmakers’ salaries, but it also funds the salaries of staff and maintenance workers in the legislature, and it funds legislative agencies such as the Legislative Reference Library.
Texas state Rep. Chris Turner (D), who chairs the Democratic caucus in the House, said that Abbott’s actions may be unconstitutional, and said that he plans to take Abbott’s administration to court over it.
“Texas has a governor, not a dictator or emperor. The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is that latest indication that Governor Greg Abbott is simply out of control,” Turner said in a statement.
“Let’s be clear – vetoing the legislative branch will cause direct harm to Texans,” he continued. “Our constituent services and the lifeblood of our public service, something Abbott should try learning about. By placing a termination date on the employment of all legislative staff, the governor is cutting off services to millions of Texans.”
“Our caucus is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back against Greg Abbott’s abuse of power,” Turner said.
Abbott has also called on the legislature to join a special session to work on passing his legislative priorities.
“I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation,” he said in a statement last month. “During the special session, we will continue to advance policies that put the people of Texas first.”
“This session we passed legislation to: secure our border, support our police, expand 2A rights, defend religious liberty, protect life ,” he went on. “It was one of the most conservative sessions our state has ever seen. But, there’s more we must do to ensure a brighter future for Texas. Election integrity & bail reform were must-pass emergency items. I expect legislators to work out their differences before special session.”