Texas Governor Vetoes Funding for State Legislature after Dem Walkout on Voting Bill

POLITICS & POLICY
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the annual National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Texas, May 4, 2018. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) vetoed funding for members of the state legislature on Friday, making good on his threat do so after state Democrats blocked a Republican-backed bill on election procedures.

“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement following his veto. “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.”

House Democratic Caucus chair Chris Turner criticized Abbott’s veto as an “abuse of power.”

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

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The veto came after Democratic state lawmakers walked out of the legislature before a scheduled vote on an elections bill, denying a quorum and effectively blocking the bill’s passage. The bill would have placed limits on absentee voting, including additional identification requirements for mail-in voting, and bar state officials from sending mail-in ballots to voters who didn’t request them.

Democrats accused Republicans of attempting to suppress “Souls to the Polls,” initiatives among black churches meant to encourage members to vote.

Texas state lawmakers are paid $600 a month with an additional $221 per diem for every day the legislature is in session. However, the budget provision vetoed by Abbott also would have funded legislative staff.

“My only concern is how [the veto] impacts staff, especially those who live here in Austin, which is not an inexpensive place to live and raise your family and children,” Texas House speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, told the Texas Tribune earlier this month.

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