Democratic Lawmakers Ask Texas Supreme Court To Block Gov. Greg Abbott’s Legislative Funding Veto

Lawmakers filed a petition Friday, asking the Texas Supreme Court to reject Abbott’s veto.

Eric Gay / AP Photo
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Abbott on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 ordered lawmakers back to work in July, raising expectations of another attempt to pass new voting restrictions after Democrats blocked the GOP’s first try with a dramatic late-night walkout in May.

Texas Democrats asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to reject Gov. Greg Abbott's veto of the Texas Legislature's funding.

The petition calls Abbott’s decision to slash the funding “unconstitutionally invalid,” and says that it will “deprive (Abbott’s) co-equal branch of its operating budget.”

“Abbott's veto is an abuse of power, an act of legislative coercion and a threat to democracy, the result of which is clear and immediate harm to the people of Texas,” read a statement from state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, who chairs the Texas House Democratic Caucus. “The Legislature is a co-equal branch of government and the separation of powers is enshrined in our state constitution. The governor doesn't get to simply cancel another branch of government when he doesn't get his way.”

The suit was filed by Texas House Democrats, legislative caucuses, state employees and the Texas AFL-CIO.

The governor vetoed the legislature’s funding last week in response to a walkout staged by Democratic lawmakers at the end of this year’s legislative session.

That walkout effectively killed GOP-backed voting laws, which critics have said would have amounted to voter suppression.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The petition asks the Texas Supreme Court to begin oral arguments in mid-July, and to make a final decision regarding the veto before the legislature’s remaining funds run out.

If the cuts are not reversed by Sept. 1, the petition notes that the veto would leave thousands of full-time Capitol staff members without pay — ranging from office staff who prepare paperwork, to grounds crew and cafeteria workers, according to court filings.

Texas lawmakers would be exempt, as their salaries are guaranteed by the state constitution.

“Gov. Abbott's bogus power grab has created one mighty large Texas injury involving 2,000 victims ranging from lawmakers themselves to legislative staffs to an infrastructure that makes law-writing possible,” read a statement from Rick Levy, resident of the Texas AFL-CIO. “They are bystanders in this brawl, their livelihoods are now in jeopardy.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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