Texas Gov Abbott Threatens to Punish Cities That Defund Their Police
Governor warns he will freeze property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and top state leaders announced Tuesday that they are pushing for legislation to punish cities that vote to defund their police departments.
The governor warned that the state would freeze property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets.
The announcement from Abbott comes just days after the Austin City Council approved a budget that will cut police funding by up to one-third.
The city is moving some operations, such as forensics, outside of the management of the police department and will reinvest the taxpayer money in other areas, including controversial services such as "abortion access."
The proposal sets up what is expected to be a fight in the 2021 Texas Legislature over what police reform should look like amid Black Lives Matter-led calls to defund, or even abolish, the police.
“Any city in the state of Texas that defunds law enforcement will have their property tax revenue frozen as of that time,” Abbott told a press conference in Fort Worth.
“This will be an effective tool that effectively will prevent cities from being able to reduce funding support for law enforcement agencies,” Gov. Abbott added.
"When crime is on the rise, the last thing we should do is defund law enforcement — and yet that is exactly what the City of Austin did," Abbott said.
"Defunding police puts residents in danger and it invites lawlessness into our communities."
Abbott reiterated his plan in a post from his official Twitter account.
"Under my plan, any city that defunds police will have their property tax revenue capped at current levels.
"Cities can't cut law enforcement [and] then turn around and increase taxes on the residents they just endangered," Abbott tweeted.
Abbott noted that crime has increased in Austin and the reduced police force will likely worsen the situation for residents.
"Just because there is an act, or many acts committed by law enforcement does not mean that we reduce law enforcement," Abbott said.
Austin's Democrat Mayor Steve Adler responded to Abbott's media briefing and denied that the city was crippling law enforcement or endangering its citizens.
"The press conference today was not about facts," said Adler.
"It presented no data. It was about trying to make us scared."
He also explained that only $20 million was being defunded directly from the police department, while the rest of the redirected funds would not result in a reduction of law enforcement response.
He also argued that Austin's murder rate was comparatively low, even if it had seen a recent drastic increase.