Governor Greg Abbott announced a legislative initiative regarding police funding at a press conference today at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth. The initiative, which would be proposed as part of the next legislative session, would freeze property tax revenue for any city that defunds its police department.
Abbott was joined by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen along with state Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), state Representatives Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller), Stephanie Klick (R-North Richland Hills), Charlie Geren (R-Lake Worth), and Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth).
“Cities that endanger residents should not be about to get more property tax revenue from residents whose lives they have endangered,” Abbott said.
Recently, Austin cut its police funding by $150 million. Abbott pointed out that Austin ranks first in year-to-year percentage increase in murders, over 64 percent for the first half of the year.
“Defunding puts the residents in danger and invites lawlessness into our communities. This is a legislative proposal that will discourage defunding,” Abbott added.
Black Lives Matter and other similar groups have called for the defunding of police and various other reforms in light of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis.
Patrick and Bonnen both support the initiative.
“We will be ready to make it a priority in the senate,” Patrick emphasized.
Bonnen pointed out that Austin Mayor Steve Adler opposed the possible reduction of property tax revenue by the reforms found in Senate Bill 2, saying it would risk public safety.
“So $15 million was risky to the citizens of Austin in 2016, but $150 million of defunding public safety is not in 2020,” Bonnen pointed out.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was present at the event. “For me and for most mayors, public safety is job one in this community. It is not political, it is common sense. I am proud to support our men and women in uniform.”
The residents of Fort Worth recently approved an extension of the Crime Control and Prevention District. Fort Worth Police Department is also working to address concerns raised as a result of the findings of an expert review panel.
When asked if cities faced revenue shortfalls in the future whether there would be any concessions, Abbott replied, “If cities face tough economic times in future, they will have no chance to raise revenue. If we have lawlessness in our cities, it is going to cause chaos throughout the city. We will not have it.”
Regarding other proposed reforms, Abbott said, “We must give them the training and tools they need to prevent replication of the George Floyd incident in the future. We need to evaluate some use-of-force strategies that result in killing someone who should not be killed. I am open to working on any strategies that will make Texas better.”
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.