One thing we've learned about Gov. Greg Abbott during his time in office: he gets testy when he doesn't get his way.
On Monday, after Democrats in the Texas Legislature stood in the way of a GOP-backed bill that would make it harder for Texans to vote, Abbott threatened to withhold lawmakers' salaries in retaliation.
Following a late-night walkout by Dems that doomed a bill decried by civil-rights groups as a naked attempt at voter suppression, Abbott tweeted a threat to use his line-item veto power to reject Article 10 of the state budget. That article supplies paychecks not just to members of the Lege but also to their staff and it funds a raft of legislative agencies.
“No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” the Republican governor tweeted. "Stay tuned."
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 31, 2021
Article 10 funds the legislative branch.
No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities.
The voting bill, one of Abbott's emergency items for the current session, was championed by Republicans as bid to ensure "voting integrity." However, bill supporters have been unable to supply evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.
The legislation would limit early voting hours, make it harder to vote by mail and strip local elections officials of their ability to increase turnout — all of which voting-rights advocates argue would make it harder for poor people, people of color and people with disabilities to cast ballots.
Critics also point out that the proposal parrots talking points of Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats.
Abbott has already said he'll call a special session to force lawmakers to complete passage of the bill.
In the meantime, Democratic lawmakers ripped the governor over his threat to withhold Article 10 funds. While members of the Lege can afford to go without the $600 they receive in monthly compensation, they pointed out, the veto would put real financial strain on workers behind the scenes.
"Punishing working class office staff, maintenance, and other support services because he didn't get every single one of his demands is very on-brand for Texas Republicans," State Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, tweeted back at Abbott.
Punishing working class office staff, maintenance, and other support services because he didn't get every single one of his demands is very on-brand for Texas Republicans. https://t.co/f48j1KJV5p— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) May 31, 2021
“This would eliminate the branch of government that represents the people and basically create a monarchy,” tweeted State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin.
Abbott has until June 20 to carry out the veto, which would apply to the fiscal year that begins September 1.
Since the Texas constitution spells out that payment due to members of the Texas Legislature, it stands to reason Abbott would face a legal challenge should he actually go through with his threat.
So, as the governor just said, "Stay tuned."
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