The latest Band-Aid on legislative dysfunction staves off Abbott’s decision in May to veto funding for the legislative branch after Democrats in the Texas House broke quorum to kill a controversial election reform bill.
Abbott made the announcement in a press release Friday with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), Texas House Appropriations Chair Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), and Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). Legislative funding has been extended until the end of September.
“Texans should not have to pay for Legislators who quit their jobs and leave unfinished business,” Abbott said.
“Today, funding is being temporarily restored for Legislative staff that will be necessary to pass critical legislation on the call, including COVID-19 funding for healthcare, strategies for public school education during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing property tax relief, funding our retired teachers, protecting our foster children, and security the border.”
Abbott called a special session for July, during which lawmakers were able to accomplish nothing due to Democrats breaking quorum once again by fleeing to Washington, D.C. The governor has called a second special session, though there was still not a quorum when the Texas House gaveled in on Saturday.
In view of the fact that special legislative sessions can last up to 30 days, if Abbott’s veto of legislative funding had taken effect on September 1, that could have meant funding running out before the special session ended.
In the press release, Patrick said that he “was never going to let the irresponsible runaway Democrats take paychecks and benefits away from our capitol staff who work hard every day for the people of Texas.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have initiated a lawsuit against Abbott over the legislative funding veto, for which the governor has received bipartisan criticism. Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) introduced a bill to abolish the line item veto, the method Abbott used to scratch Article X of the budget, which would have funded the legislature.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) put out a statement criticizing the governor.
“Today’s actions don’t change the fact that Gov. Abbott’s unconstitutional veto of Article X funding is a violation of the separation of powers and a disgraceful effort to hold the public employees of our state as hostages,” Turner said. “We urge the Texas Supreme Court to take immediate action to decide whether our state will remain a democratic republic, or if it’s Gov. Abbott’s alone to control.”
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."