Texas Governor Defunds State Legislature

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was furious Memorial Day weekend when House Democrats derailed passage of his highly restrictive voting suppression legislation by walking out of the chamber, preventing lawmakers from passing the bill. Yesterday the Republican Abbott followed through on a threat and vetoed a section of the state’s budget that funds the Texas Legislature.

Abbott’s defunding affects not just the lawmakers themselves. It also means that hundreds of legislative staffers and employees of legislative agencies in the state won’t get paid. In a statement, Abbott said that “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,” the governor said.

Many are questioning the constitutionality of the governor’s actions. The chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Chris Turner, blasted Abbott’s move, calling it an “abuse of power” and said the caucus “is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back.”

“Texas has a governor, not a dictator,” Turner said in a statement. “The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that [Abbott] is simply out of control.”

Lawmakers in the Lone Star state are paid $600 a month in addition to a per diem of $221 every day that the legislature is in session.

The anti-voting rights bill that Democrats blocked would ban drive-thru voting, limit voting hours, make it more difficult to cast mail ballots and empower partisan poll watchers.

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