Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed through on his threat and vetoed Friday the new state budget's line item providing for legislative staff pay.
The Republican governor had threatened the veto after a walkout by House Democrats in the final hours of the regular legislative session. The walkout denied a House quorum to vote on controversial voting restrictions that Abbott had prioritized.
"Texans don't run from a legislative fight, and they don't walk away from unfinished business," Abbott said in Friday's veto message. "Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session."
However, a summer special session already was expected so the Legislature can redraw district lines for congressional, legislative and other government offices.
The budget is to take effect on Sept. 1. Abbott is expected to push the voting restrictions bill gain during the summer special session.
Rep. Chris Turner, the Grand Prairie Democrat who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, engineered the walkout. In a statement Friday, he called Abbott's veto "tyrannical" and the latest indication the Republican governor "is out of control." The caucus is considering all of its options, Turner said, "including immediate legal options."
"Let's be clear," he said. "Vetoing the legislative branch will cause direct harm to Texans. Members of the Legislature provide vital services in our districts -- helping single parents receive child support payments, assisting a family with healthcare enrollment for their children or resolving a driver license issue. Our constituent services are the lifeblood of our public service, something Abbott should try learning about. By placing a termination date on the employment of all legislative staff, the governor is cutting off services to millions of Texans."
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Messages seeking comment from House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, were not immediately returned. Both are Republicans.