Austin, TX – When the Texas House of Representatives did not pass several bills supported by Governor Greg Abbott in May—including a restrictive election bill—Governor Abbott retaliated by vetoing funding for the state Legislature’s operations. This action effectively eliminated the co-equal branch of government for the next two years. This action is unprecedented, unlawful, and coercive.
As a result of Governor Abbott’s action, funding for the state Legislature will run dry at the end of August. Having announced a special session that will extend into September, and having left the Legislature with no funds to operate, today Governor Abbott announced the reallocation of some limited, temporary funding for the state Legislature to operate during that special session.
Democracy Forward President & CEO Skye Perryman issued the following statement:
“Today Governor Abbott announced the availability of some temporary, limited funding for the Legislature. We will be reviewing that action closely.
“The Governor’s announcement does not change the fact that he violated the guarantee of separation of powers enshrined in the Texas Constitution for over a century when he effectively abolished the state Legislature. Over two thousand hard-working state employees continue to be held hostage by Abbott’s unlawful act.
“Don’t be fooled by today’s announcement. Once again, Governor Abbott has placed his personal agenda ahead of the state Constitution, state workers, and Texas values.
“We urge the Texas Supreme Court to hear our clients’ petition, which is supported by current and former lawmakers from both political parties. Governor Abbott’s abuse of power must be checked.”
Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), Chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, issued the following statement:
“Today’s actions don’t change the fact that Gov. Abbott’s unconstitutional veto of Article X funding is a violation of the separation of powers and a disgraceful effort to hold the public employees of our state as hostages. We urge the Texas Supreme Court to take immediate action to decide whether our state will remain a democratic republic, or if it’s Gov. Abbott’s alone to control.”
Under the Texas Constitution, one branch of government cannot effectively abolish another. But that is precisely what Governor Abbott did in June when he vetoed the Legislature’s funding for the next two years.
On June 25, 66 Texas lawmakers, several affected state employees, and the Texas AFL-CIO filed suit in the Texas Supreme Court seeking expeditious consideration of a petition to reject the governor’s unconstitutional veto and allow the state Legislature to be funded. This petition is supported by leading legal scholars and current and former elected officials from both parties.
The Texas Supreme Court has not yet acted on this petition.
The Texas AFL-CIO and individual staff are represented by Jim Dunnam of Dunnam & Dunnam and lawyers at Democracy Forward. The Legislative Members and caucuses are represented by Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn and Kevin Vickers of Brady & Peavey.