87th LegislatureState SenateTaxes & SpendingGOP Lawmaker Proposes Abolishing Line-Item Veto Over Frustration with Abbott’s Legislative Funding Cut

Though it faces difficulty in passing, a Republican senator has proposed to strip the governor of his line-item veto authority after he used it to cut funding to the legislature.
July 28, 2021
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Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) filed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to abolish the governor’s authority to veto line-items in appropriation bills after Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the funding for the state legislature in Article X of the state budget that passed earlier this year.

The proposal, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 8, would need the support of two-thirds of the members in each chamber and approval from the public at the ballot before it could become law.

“Out of frustration, the Governor vetoed all funding for the Legislative Branch because Democrats broke quorum,” said Seliger. “But, vetoing this funding doesn’t punish legislators who left. It punishes regular hard-working folks who have nothing to do with voting for or against bills.”

The Amarillo senator noted that Abbott’s veto of the legislative funding will go into effect in “less than 4 weeks” and will eliminate “pay for Capitol post office staff, researchers, caseworkers in district offices, those responsible for answering open record requests, etc…”

“They have not left their posts but are worried about health insurance, rent, and paying for their children’s school supplies. For this reason, I have filed SJR 8, which will keep this mess from happening again,” said Seliger.

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Abbott’s veto of the legislative funding was in response to the Democrats breaking quorum in the eleventh hour of the regular session to kill the GOP’s election bill.

In a special session call, Abbott placed the legislative funding on the agenda along with election reform, but House Democrats have again broken quorum in an attempt to make sure the election bill does not pass.

The current quorum break in the House prevents the measure from being fully approved but does not prohibit the Senate from taking action on their part.

But since Abbott’s agenda for the special session only specified for the legislature to approve a bill “providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act,” the governor may need to broaden his agenda in order for SJR 8 to be approved.

Though Seliger is so far the sole author of the constitutional amendment with no other members joining him, he has seen some support from Democrats in the House.

“Thank you for SJR8 that protects the co-equal legislative branch of govt,” said Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). “Despite our political differences, we cannot allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Holding hostage >2000 state employees who had nothing to do w/ Abbott’s grievance is unconscionable.”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.