Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a portion of the state budget that funds the legislative branch on Friday, following through on a threat he made last month after Democratic lawmakers blocked a vote on a GOP-backed election bill.
Abbott vetoed funding weeks after several Texas House Democrats walked off the floor and broke quorum before a planned vote on Senate Bill 7. As a result, lawmakers were unable to hold a vote on the election bill before the end of the legislative session.
“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement. “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. I therefore object to and disapprove of these appropriations.”
Texas Democrats ripped Abbott when he first said he planned to veto funding, pointing out that the budget article also funds rank-and-file staffers such as clerical and maintenance workers.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner told the Texas Tribune that the party “is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back” against Abbott’s decision.
“Texas has a governor, not a dictator,” Turner said in a statement to the outlet. “The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that [Abbott] is simply out of control.”
Abbott has already indicated that he will convene a special session of the state legislature to vote on the election bill, which he has called a “must-pass emergency item.” Democrats have widely opposed the legislation.
If enacted, the bill would make sweeping changes to state elections by expanding the authority of partisan poll watchers, enacting bans on 24-hour and drive-thru voting, and increasing penalties for election workers who violate protocols.