Texas Supreme Court sides with Abbott on defunding legislature

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Policy, Texas Legislature

On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition filed by Texas Democrats that would have forced Gov. Greg Abbott to restore funding to the legislative branch.

The governor vetoed funding for the legislative branch after Democrats first broke quorum during the regular session. Democrats filed the petition shortly after, arguing that the governor’s actions were unconstitutional and violated the balance of power between co-equal branches of government.

The Republican-controlled court denied the petition, arguing that it was not the court’s place to referee issues between branches of government that could be solved by themselves.

“Concerns over the separation of powers involve not only disagreements between the executive and legislative branches, when they arise, but also the judiciary’s intervention,” the court opinion read. “Courts have uniformly recognized that it is not their role to resolve disputes between the other two branches that those branches can resolve for themselves.”

The Texas Supreme Court ruling comes days after the start of the second special session, which began Saturday but has yet to see sufficient members present to achieve quorum.

The governor has placed Article X (the legislative branch) funding as one of the agenda items for the second special session, but Democratic lawmakers have pointed out that no quorum is needed to restore funding; the governor could simply use his budget authority to fund the branch, as he’s done in other instances where he wants to move state money around without input from the legislature. 

Sept. 1 marks the date that employees of Texas’ legislative branch will stop receiving paychecks. That includes staffers for several state agencies, including the Legislative Budget Board and State Auditor’s Office.

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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