The GOP-controlled House in the state of Texas passed a measure Friday to financially punish cities who take steps to join the leftist “defund the police” movement.
HB 1900 passed 90 to 49, defining “defunding local government” by comparing both personnel and resources in a given city’s budget to the prior year.
“Let’s support public safety in this state. Let’s support our police. Let’s back the blue,” said Republican state Rep. Craig Goldman, the author of the bill.
Under the bill, Texas cities that defund their respective police departments would receive a confiscation of sales tax receipts, and funding would go to the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, the bill would only apply to cities with 250,000 or more residents — which accounts for 11 cities in the state. An additional amendment to qualify all cities regardless of size did not make its way in the passage of the bill.
This bill cracks down on cities that try to defund police.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 7, 2021
Austin, the capital of Texas, slashed its police department budget by $20 million over the summer. The city council originally voted to cut $150 million — one-third — of the funding, but the cancellation of overtime expenses and cadet classes protected the remaining amount from being cut. Fox News reported in October that Austin saw a major crime spike, with Austin Police Association President Ken Cassidy noting “[o]ur murder rate’s the highest it’s ever been.”
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been vocal in his opposition to the “defund the police” movement.
“Austin experiences the highest number of homicides in 20 years. This is why it is absurd that Austin is defunding police. It is also why Texas will act to roll back that defunding and consider taking over policing in some areas of Austin,” Abbott tweeted in November upon new data being released.
Cities across the nation have moved to defund the police. New York, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Baltimore, and Philadelphia all moved to reallocate law enforcement funding in August, and spiking crime rates have followed.
Abbott’s office worked with Goldman to bring the bill to the House. In August, the governor discussed the measure and said he supported freezing property tax revenues for cities that choose to defund law enforcement. The bill will head to the Senate, where there is a Republican majority of 18 to 13.