Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appeared live on NBC 5 News at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the upcoming special session, his re-election campaign, and the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Questions and answers from that interview are below.
How would the vetoing part of the budget that funds the legislative branch work?
"What it does, there are different articles in the budget. One article would fund, let's say the legislative branch of government and the entire legislative branch could be vetoed. Remember that the entire budget could be vetoed if a governor wants to. Let's say that the legislative branch of government were vetoed, I would call them back for a special session and give them the opportunity to vote it back in. So they would have the ultimate say about their pay in the legislative branch. They will have that opportunity. It's just a way to make sure that we're going to vet all these issues and that there are consequences when people walk out on their job."
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Dems say they're gearing up for a fight on voting reform. Is there a path for a bi-partisan agreement?
"All it takes is a majority vote. I think Republicans will agree to support it in both the Texas House and Texas Senate. I know there will be efforts to try to accommodate some of the demands. But also I know this, and that is election integrity is needed especially as it concerns mail-in ballots and especially as it concerns the attempts by, in this case, a single county in the state of Texas taking upon itself the rewriting of election laws in the state of Texas despite the fact that it's the United States Constitution that gives to the states, not local counties, the authority to make voting laws. And so the state of Texas is having to rewrite laws that Harris County wrote to use in this last election to make sure that the hours are going to be maintained at the same level across the state of Texas."
The 2022 election is around the corner. With Republican candidates filing to challenge, is there concern over the party splitting?
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"First, I haven't even taken a look at it because my work is not yet done. The session may be over, but for me, I still have more than 1,000 bills of legislation on my desk that I need to sign or veto. And so we continue our work until that time period expires on June 20. Then we'll turn toward politics.
I can foresee the answer to your second question. I think there will be unification among the party because we understand that we stand united in this state because Texas really is the premier state in the United States. Here is a quick example, in this past year, the Dallas-Fort Worth area that you're broadcasting from ranked No. 1 in the United States for commercial real estate development, and so many other things, Texas is No. 1. We need to keep Texas No. 1."
How do you get more people on board with vaccines?
"First, as you know, the numbers continue to go down. Today we had the lowest positivity rate that we've had ever. We had the second-lowest number of deaths today. Hospitalizations over the last few days have been at record lows for the past 13-14 months. So all the numbers are going in the right direction. The reason why is because, in part, so many people are getting vaccines. And so we do encourage people to get vaccines. As it comes to using something like what you've seen in other states, like a lottery for vaccines or some kind of monetary inducement or anything like that, we don't believe in using monetary inducements in the state of Texas. We believe that everyone has the right to make their own decision to get a vaccine or not get a vaccine. But we have found that most Texans are because if you look at the senior population, the people who are most likely to be hospitalized or lose their life because of COVID, more than 70% of that population has already received a vaccine shot. And those are very important numbers that lead to the results of the decline in COVID and the decline in hospitalizations and fatalities in Texas."
How is the state's enforcement of border security going?
"We just passed a budget that adds more than $1 billion for the state of Texas to step up and do even more to secure our border. I will be announcing a lot of what we will be doing to increase border security at a border conference later on this week down in Del Rio where I have already declared a disaster for 34 counties that are on or near the border because of the damages and lack of security they are having to deal with because of Biden's open border policies."
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