Courtesy Photo / Texas Governor's Office
Greg Abbott (center) speaks at Tuesday's press conference.
Gov. Greg Abbott said he and other state GOP leaders will seek a measure during the 2021 legislative session to freeze property tax revenues for cities that cut their police budgets.
Abbott made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday, less than a week after Austin's city council approved a budget that slashed police funding by one-third and funneled that money into social services. The council's vote came after months of pressure from social justice activists in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
"Part of our job as state leaders is to ensure the safety and security of all Texans, and we will not allow this core function to be undermined by cities that seek to defund and dismantle law enforcement agencies that have a sworn duty to protect our communities," Abbott said at the Fort Worth presser.
Abbott was joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and other Republican state lawmakers.
Austin's deep cut to its police budget is likely to turn up pressure for other big Texas cities to examine their own police funding amid anti-police brutality protests, observers say
. San Antonio’s proposed 2021 budget includes an $8 million increase in police funding but calls for cuts to overtime plus more spending for violence prevention programs.
Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman said Abbott's event is an attempt to divert attention from the runaway spread of the coronavirus on his watch. More than 10,000 Texans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“If Donald Trump and Greg Abbott were really focused on safety for our families, they would have listened to doctors and scientists instead of lobbyists and donors," Rahman said in an emailed statement.
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