AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced a legislative proposal discouraging the defunding of law enforcement. The three were joined by other local officials at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth for a live press conference on Tuesday, August 18.
"When crime is on the rise, the last thing we should do is defund the police," Abbott said. The governor added that any city in the state that defunds police departments will have property tax rates frozen at their current level.
He said that means that those cities would not have increased property revenue if they defunded police. “Any city that defunds police departments will have its property tax revenue frozen at the current level,” said Governor Abbott. “Cities that endanger residents by reducing law enforcement should not then be able to turn around and go back and get more property tax dollars.”
The proposal comes a week after Austin City Council announced that it would be cutting $150 million from the Austin Police Department's budget. The total APD budget that was approved will be about $290 million which is down from the $434 million that was in the proposed budget.
Officials say that of that $150 million, $21 million of that will be immediately reinvested in EMS, domestic violence shelters and programs to address violence and homelessness.
Attorney General Ken Paxton said:
“The unwarranted attack by the Austin mayor and city council on their police department’s budget is no more than a political haymaker driven by the pressures of cancel culture. Unfortunately, the targets of this ‘cancelling’ are the brave men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line to keep our families safe. The city council’s action to slash funding disregards the safety of our capital city, its citizens, and the many guests who frequent it. The City of Austin already struggles to combat widespread crime, violence and homelessness. In light of rising violent crime rates in many cities across the country as well the majority of Austinites opposing defunding police, the mayor and the city council should immediately reconsider this ill-advised effort at virtue signaling; which will endanger lives and property in Austin.”
In his statement, Governor Abbott said:
"Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety," said Governor Abbott. "Austin's decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness. Public safety is job one, and Austin has abandoned that duty. The legislature will take this issue up next session, but in the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city."