Governor Greg Abbott was joined by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price for the press conference addressing the defunding of police departments in cities across the state.
Last week the Austin City Council voted to cut the police department’s budget by about one-third and move the money to social services. Today Gov. Abbott announced new actions that will be taken against municipalities that do the same.
“To maintain the safety that our communities deserve today we are announcing a legislative proposal that will discourage defunding law enforcement in Texas,” he said during the afternoon press conference. “Any city that defunds police departments will have its property tax revenue frozen at the current level. They will ever be able to increase property tax revenue again if they defund police.”
The governor went on to say, “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 from those same residents whose lives the city just endangered.”
The City of Austin voted to move some $21 million to fund local social services and community resources — including response to the coronavirus, mental health aid programs, violence prevention, victim services and food, housing and abortion access. Another $80 million is set to be redistributed to similar city services, and $49 million will be spent on the Austin Reimagine Safety Fund, which aims to provide alternative forms of public safety and community support besides policing.