AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott said late Thursday that he was reviewing laws that would force the auditor not to release local sales tax money to a city that is “defusing the police.”
Abbott, who appeared at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference, said one of his main goals for the legislature, which began Tuesday, was “to make it fiscally impossible for a city” to cut police funding.
“Defunding and disregarding the police is the worst policy any community or state could have,” Abbott said.
Abbott, who worked for months on Austin police budget cuts, applauded when the Dallas City Council reversed course on some proposed cuts last summer.
“I have a lot of ideas,” he admitted, citing his publicly known attempts to promote potential negative incentives, such as the inability to annex land, property taxes, and even move the Austin Police Department into the Texas Public Safety Department to be included.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott suggests removing annexation powers from cities that “defuse” police
Last fall, Abbott highlighted the issue of protecting police budgets when he helped fend off a Democratic push to take control of Texas House.
On Thursday, the Republican governor tied economic development with adequate law enforcement funding.
Executives in other states who are moving their operations to Texas are upset, he said.
“Almost everyone has told me that they are trying to flee the lawlessness that reigns in their communities,” Abbott told his conservative audience.
“And that’s exactly why I hit the gas pedal to make sure cities in the state of Texas don’t let our police down. This is insane. “
An Abbott spokesman said he did not know if the governor had found a billing sponsor who would push the idea through.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a frequent Abbott target, is hoping lawmakers will have a “fact-based” discussion on the matter.
“Austin spends more per capita on its police force than any other large city in Texas because we understand their important role and don’t believe in defusing our police force,” Adler said in a written statement.
“And we’re always looking for new ways to make our already safe city even safer,” he said. “I hope that the legislative debate on this issue is factual and not just a political organizing or donation tool.”
Governor Greg Abbott, who has clashed with Kevin Roberts, the executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said he was also “desperate” for legislation to “restore civics instruction in the school classroom … with emphasis.” on Texas values, Texas exceptional cases and patriotism, the US Constitution, the core values that made Texas. “(Lynda M. Gonzalez / employee photographer)
Jennifer Stevens, a spokeswoman for the Texas Municipal League, said the group representing cities “will not comment at this time”.
Abbott seeks a nationwide push by some liberal activists to change the police force, in part by moving mental health and some other functions away from the police force to reduce their funding. However, the terms he has used, such as “defusing and dismantling the police force,” are imprecise, and most Texas Democrats say they are not used to abolish or slash police department budgets.
In the current session, Abbott said, “I will work with lawmakers on the ideas they think are best. But I think the one that forces a city to choose between bankruptcy or funding its police force is the best policy. “
He noted that cities in Texas receive sales tax revenue from the auditor’s office. Every month, companies transfer the 6-1 / 4-cent sales tax plus up to two cents of additional local sales they levied in the previous month. The controller’s office then shares the local stake – about $ 800 million per month – among cities, counties, transit systems, and tax counties for special purposes.
“I’m looking for a law that the auditor doesn’t have to forward to Austin, Texas, the remittance of sales tax receipts that come from, say, a city like Austin, Texas, unless and until they are reinforced and that Doing the right thing to fund their cops, ”Abbott said to applause.
Abbott said he hears from longtime Conservative citizens who fear that employees of technology companies and other companies moving to Texas from California will “turn Texas blue.”
The governor said he assured them that this would not happen.
Abbott, a top executive at the Fortune 500 company that has moved its operations to Texas, recently complained that Austin had attempted to copy the “failed city” of San Francisco.
“We’re involved in a major exchange program,” said Abbott. “We’ll take their conservatives and send them our liberals.”