Gov. Abbott proposes freezing property tax revenue in cities that cut police funding

Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News

By Audrey McGlinchy Austin Monitor

In the hopes of discouraging cities from reducing money spent on police, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he and other state leaders support the passage of a bill halting a property tax revenue increase for any Texas city that cuts its police budget.

“Cities that endanger residents by reducing law enforcement should not then be able to turn around and go back and get more property tax dollars from those same residents whose lives the city just endangered,” Abbott said at a news conference with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

The announcement came days after the Austin City Council cut its police budget by millions.

Abbott’s proposal is just that – a proposal. A bill would need to be passed by state lawmakers, presumably during the next legislative session, which begins in January.

Hundreds of Austinites told Council members during hours of testimony over the past two months that they wanted the city to cut its police budget by at least $100 million, and spend that money instead on social services like low-income housing and public health.

“We’re going to keep on doing what we are doing,” Council Member Greg Casar told KUT after Abbott’s news conference. “We’re going to keep on supporting the movement for Black lives and keep on doing what’s right for civil rights even if the governor just wants to rely on the traditional Austin-bashing to try and distract people.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he had not received any warning ahead of Abbott’s announcement. He said without any specific legislation it was purely a political move meant to scare people.

“I’m sure we’re going to see more and more of this as we get closer to the election in November,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a bad thing, and I hope the voters turn away from it.”

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.