Less than 24 hours before the start of the second special session, Gov. Greg Abbott has given temporary reprieve to staff and agencies who faced defunding after his veto earlier this year of Article X of the budget, the part of the budget that funds the Legislature.
After Democrat lawmakers walked out of the Texas House in the final hours of the regular legislative session in order to kill election integrity legislation, Abbott announced he would veto funding of legislative staff and agencies in retaliation in order to compel them to pass his priority items.
“Texans don’t run away from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said at the time. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their jobs early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”
But after calling a 30-day special session in July, House Democrats fled once again, this time leaving for Washington, D.C., breaking quorum and causing legislation to be frozen for weeks until the session’s conclusion on Friday.
Hours after the first special session adjourned, Abbott along with the Legislative Budget Board (which consists of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, and representatives from both chambers) made a move to temporarily restore the funding for the month of September, as the funding was set to expire after August 31.
“Texans should not have to pay for Legislators who quit their jobs and leave unfinished business,” said Abbott on Friday evening. “Today, funding is being temporarily restored for Legislative staff that will be necessary to pass critical legislation on the call, including COVID-19 funding for healthcare, strategies for public school education during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing property tax relief, funding our retired teachers, protecting our foster children, and securing the border.”
With one bargaining chip off the table, it remains to be seen if Democrats will return to the state Capitol as the second special session is set to begin on Saturday.