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Texas Governor Sued Over Defunding Of Legislature

Texas House Democrats are asking the state’s Supreme Court to overturn Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto of a budget provision that funds the Legislature, charging that his action was unconstitutional.

The suit argues that Abbott’s veto, which could lead to about 2,000 legislative staffers not being paid for two years, violates the separation-of-powers clauses in the Texas Constitution. The Texas House members were joined in the suit by legislative staffers, the Texas AFL-CIO and several legislative caucuses.

“If the governor is permitted to zero out the budget of the legislative branch until he gets what he wants, he similarly will be able to eliminate the budget of the judiciary until he gets what he wants,” said Chad Dunn, an attorney for the 50 Democrats who filed the suit. “If we have learned anything of recent history, or for that matter long history, it’s that once that executive gets a power, it will be forever used.”

If left unchecked, Dunn said that Abbott’s veto would give future governors a dangerous weapon against the Texas Constitution.

“If the Texas Supreme Court doesn’t follow its precedents and strike down this act, we can bet that future governors will set demands on the Legislature and the judiciary to perform tasks at his or her pleasure, and exact revenge when it doesn’t occur,” Dunn said.

“Governor Abbott’s position — that he is able to defund a co-equal branch unless or until it bends to his will — contains no limiting principle,” the lawsuit says.

The Governor says that people that quit their job early should not be compensated.

“This is not the first time, and undoubtedly will not be the last time, that a governor vetoes funding for government positions and salaries,” Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Abbott, said.

“Any limitation on that authority directly contradicts the Constitution and decades of vetoes by governors.

“The Democrats’ claims about the governor’s veto ‘cancelling’ the legislative branch are misleading and misguided. The Constitution protects the legislative branch, and as the Democrats well know, their positions, their powers and their salaries are protected by the Constitution. They can continue to legislate despite the veto.”

Abbott issued his veto in response to the Legislature’s failure to approve and send him a controversial GOP elections bill.

Democratic lawmakers walked out during a legislative session in order to prevent the state’s Republicans from giving final approval to the sweeping voter suppression bill.

Abbott has since called for a special session to begin in July, in which it is expected for the voting bill to be a priority once again.

 

About RavenH

Raven Haywood is a journalist for 10+ years. Graduate from Howard University.

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