Abbott vowed that his administration would “pass a law to keep Austin safe” after the city cut more than $21 million from the police department, with the potential to expand that cut by millions in the near future.
Just in time for Christmas:
The Legislative Council has sent draft language for a proposed law that would transfer control of the Austin Police Department to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
One way or another we will pass a law to keep Austin safe.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 21, 2020
The Texas Constitution grants the state authority over local matters when a statewide importance is determined, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
It is not clear exactly what Abbott’s legislative draft proposes, but he has previously pushed for legislation that would allow the state to freeze property tax revenues for cities that defund their police departments.
“Defunding the police puts Texans in danger and invites lawlessness into our cities, and cities that endanger their residents should not be able to turn around and raise more taxes from those same Texans,” the governor argued earlier this year.
The Austin City Council unanimously voted in August to cut its law enforcement’s budget by nearly one-third, eliminating funding from three planned police cadet classes and reallocating funds to programs that don’t involve law enforcement, such as violence prevention, food access, and abortion access programs.
Abbott slammed the Austin City Council for endangering the safety of the city’s residents.
“Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness,” he said in a statement at the time. “Public safety is job one, and Austin has abandoned that duty.”