Texas lawmakers react to Austin City Council budget vote

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some state and local lawmakers are sounding off about cuts to the Austin Police Department’s budget.

On Thursday, Austin City Council voted to adopt the city’s 2020-21 budget as amended, changing the trajectory in how policing and public safety are carried out in the city. 

Senator Jane Nelson (R-District 12) serves as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which shapes the state budget and crafts fiscal policy for Texas. She, along with Governor Greg Abbott are vowing to address the budget in the next legislative session.

On Thursday, Abbott issued a statement about the council’s vote:

Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety,” said Governor Abbott. “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. Public safety is job one, and Austin has abandoned that duty. The legislature will take this issue up next session, but in the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city.

Governor Greg Abbott

KXAN reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the agency says at the direction of Abbott, DPS stands ready to assist local law enforcement partners.

While the department does not discuss operational specifics, we will continue to adjust operations, including the possible deployment of additional personnel and resources as needed, to meet any potential or emerging threats and to protect life and property. DPS will continue to work alongside the Austin Police Department to keep the community safe.

Media and Communications
Texas Department of Public Safety

KXAN reached out to several state lawmakers. We only heard back from Rep. Vikki Goodwin and a spokesperson said she was unable to provide a comment at this time.

The Travis County GOP says state leaders could have several options when it comes to aiding APD.

“The legislature will take a serious look at either restoring these cuts, taking a leadership role for police at a statewide level, perhaps preempting the police budget in some way,” said Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County GOP.

The council’s approved budget looks to reinvest funding to social programs like mental health response and violence prevention

“This is the budget where we launch our future, our future as a fairer, more just, more equitable, more universally-acceptable city,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

Adler defended council’s budget vote in his Facebook Live on Friday. He said it is “transformative” work as a part of re-imagining public safety. He also explained how the cuts will affect various services.

KXAN did call and email the Governor’s Office to see how the legislature might address the budget. We’re still waiting to hear back.

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