Texas Gov. Abbott Defunds His Own State's Legislature After Dems' Walkout

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a portion of the state budget that funds the legislature, its staffers, and legislative agencies on Friday.

The Republican governor vowed to veto Article 10 of the state's budget — which funds the legislature — after House Democrats walked out in the final days of the regular legislative session to block his priority elections bill that would have overhauled voting rights in the state, Texas Tribune reports.

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.”

At the end of May, Texas Democrats walked off the state House floor to block the passage of legislation that would add new obstacles for voting in future elections, and limit the availability of certain forms of voting that are largely used by low income individuals and people with disabilities, The Hill reports.

Democrats slowly left the floor as the night progressed until 10:30 p.m., when the remaining members exited the chamber and left the state House without enough members present to reach a quorum — in turn, preventing Republicans from passing the legislation before the midnight deadline.

Abbott said he would add the legislation to the state's special session agenda, and that he expected state legislators to have “worked out their differences” before returning to the floor.

“I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation," Abbott said. "During the special session, we will continue to advance policies that put the people of Texas first."

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over Abbott's veto, with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner on Friday calling the move an "abuse of power," Texas Tribune reports.

"Texas has a governor, not a dictator," Turner said. "The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that is simply out of control."

Texas Tribune reports that since Abbott issued his threat, other lawmakers and political leaders have raised concerns over how the move could impact other staffers and legislative agencies.

“I’m just concerned how it impacts them because they weren’t the ones who decided that we were going to break quorum, it wasn’t their decision, right?,” Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan said.

The Tribune reports Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who heads the Senate, expressed support for Abbott’s proposed veto, saying the move could force Democrats to come back for a special session.

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