FORT WORTH, Texas (KXAN) — In a news conference on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott expressed his disapproval for the City of Austin’s decision to transition funding out of Austin Police Department — and announced a proposal stating that any Texas cities that defund their police from now on will have their ability to increase property taxes frozen.
It comes in the wake of efforts by Austin and many other large cities to strip away money and responsibilities from local police departments, a move many conservatives have criticized.
“When crime is on the rise, the last thing we should do is defund law enforcement — and yet that is exactly what the City of Austin did… defunding police puts residents in danger and it invites lawlessness into our communities,” said Abbott.
The Governor said that cities that put their residents lives in danger should not be able to collect their tax dollars.
Abbott explained this stance based on statistics that show crime in Austin is on the rise — including saying that Austin is the number one city in America in year-to-year percentages in murder increases. He said that aggravated robberies have increased by 14% while robberies have increased by 14%.
“Just because there is an act, or many acts committed by law enforcement does not mean that we reduce law enforcement,” Abbott said. The Governor explained that while police reform is needed, it’s not a reason to reduce police budget.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lead the news conference alongside Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. During the conference, Patrick also condemned the City of Austin’s vote, saying that Austin and its leadership is moving “in the opposite direction” of where it needs to be going.
“Not only has Austin defunded police, they’ve taken away vital weapons they could use to disperse crowds… not city in Texas should be able to do this again.”
During the conference, Patrick also expressed that incidents would be a lot worse if law enforcement were not present and armed — in addition to private, armed citizens, claiming “the left” also “wants to take away guns from private citizens, not only police.”
Other officials who joined the conference include Tarrant County’s Republican delegation:
- Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price
- State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound
- State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills
- State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth
- State Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth
- State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth
- State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake
Gov. Abbott promised legislative action after the Austin City Council approved the city’s budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 that included a $150 million shift in funds away from the Austin Police Department.
Only about $20 million of that was money taken away from the police department. The rest was a coordinated effort to move areas that the police department oversees — like the DNA crime lab — and put that under civilian oversight.