Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Sunday that he would support a bill that would prevent cities in the state from issuing directives or voting to reduce funding to police departments by heeding calls from left-wing protesters seeking to “defund the police.”
In a tweet, the Republican governor highlighted an incident in the state capital, Austin, where there was no police intervention after more than 16 minutes after a shooting because there was no personnel available. As a result, one victim was critically injured after being shot in the head.
“This is what defunding the police looks like. Austin is incapable of timely responding to a victim shot in the head. Texas won’t tolerate this.”
He further reported that the state is close to passing legislation that would criminalize any initiative by any city that attempts to legislate or impose any type of measure aimed at defunding law enforcement:
“We’re about to pass a law-that I will sign-that will prevent cities from defunding police. Sanity & safety will return.”
Last summer, the Austin City Council voted to reallocate up to $150 million from the police department, bowing to pressure from Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa protesters, who staged major riots both in Texas and across much of the U.S. Abbott was never in favor of the measure.
In April, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 1900, which penalizes the state’s largest cities should they eventually reduce their police budgets.
The bill was pushed by Republican State Representatives Craig Goldman, Will Metcalf, Greg Bonnen, Angie Chen Button, and Democratic State Representative Richard Peña Raymond. It passed by a vote of 91-55.
Under the new rule, if the governor’s office determines that a city with more than 250,000 residents within the state of Texas has cut police funding, state authorities could appropriate part of the city’s taxes and use that money to pay for the Texas Department of Public Safety expenses.
Such cities would also be prohibited from raising property taxes or utility rates to prevent them from attempting to use the increase to offset taxes redistributed by the state.
Cities would only be exempt from the new regulations if the reduction to the police department is proportionally equal to an overall decrease in the city’s budget. They can also get approval to cut police budgets if one-year expenditures were higher due to extraordinary expenses such as disaster response.
“As municipalities across this nation are defunding their police departments, are taking money away from the police budgets and putting them elsewhere in their city budgets, this bill makes sure that in the state of Texas, that is not going to be allowed,” Goldman, a Fort Worth Republican, said on the House floor Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported.
The state Senate is currently discussing the bill, which has Gov. Abbott’s explicit support and, if passed, will be signed by him for early implementation, it reported.