Gov. Greg Abbott and top Texas leaders announced Tuesday that they will push for legislation next year that would freeze property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets on Tuesday, just days after the Austin City Council approved a budget that will cut police funding by one-third and reinvest money in social services.
“Any city in the state of Texas that defunds law enforcement will have their property tax revenue frozen as of that time,” Abbott said in Fort Worth, where the press conference was held. “This will be an effective tool that effectively will prevent cities from being able to reduce funding support for law enforcement agencies.”
“If we have police brutality, we don't need fewer police, we need less police brutality, and so we need to take action, whether it be as a Legislature or in police departments or whatever the case may be,” Abbott said. "We do need to take action to ensure that law enforcement officers are trained in ways in which they will not engage in police brutality.”
Abbott was joined in the press conference by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, several Republican North Texas lawmakers and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, the Texas Tribune reports.
Bonnen, who is not returning to the legislature in 2021, criticized Austin Mayor Steve Adler for opposing police funding cuts in previous years during property tax debates, only to support it now.
“It is not acceptable,” Bonnen said. “Law enforcement is not a tool of political agendas and I would ask the city of Austin to stop using them as one.”