Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) vetoed funding for the state legislature on Friday, carrying out the threat he made last month after Democrats staged a walk-out to block legislation.
Democrats in the Texas House walked off the floor of the House chamber last month, 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 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 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 these appropriations.”
Abbott vetoed Article 10 of the state budget approved by the legislature Friday. Article 10 not only funds lawmakers’ salaries, but also the salaries of staff and maintenance workers, and it funds legislative agencies such as the Legislative Reference Library.
Abbott’s veto of Article 10 is unprecedented, according to the Legislative Reference Library. Similarly, the Democrats’ walk-out in May to stop legislation that was otherwise primed to pass is a move that has rarely been done in Texas politics.
Texas state Rep. Chris Turner (D), who chairs the Democratic caucus in the House, said that Abbott’s action may be unconstitutional, and said 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 the 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 are 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 called for legislators to join a special session of the state legislature to work on passing Abbott’s 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 continued. “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.”