In response to the shooting that took place for over 16 minutes Sunday morning in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott reaffirmed his commitment blocking cities from defunding their police departments.
After retweeting Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday’s account of the events, the governor wrote: “This is what defunding the police looks like. Austin is incapable of timely responding to a victim shot in the head. Texas won’t tolerate this. We’re about to pass a law-that I will sign-that will prevent cities from defunding police. Sanity & safety will return.”
Abbott’s tweet refers to HB 1900 that passed the Texas House earlier this month on a 90-49 vote. Under the legislation, if a city of more than 250,000 residents cuts its police funding, the state would be able to confiscate some of its sales tax receipts and funnel the money to the Texas Department of Public Safety. As the bill moves through the Senate committees, its supporters have called on legislators to “back the blue,” while the opposition have denounced it as political propaganda and emphasized the disproportionate effects on communities of color.
The central target for HB1900 is the city of Austin. Last year the city council diverted funds from specific police duties towards social programs intended to prevent crime. The move sparked harsh backlash from Republican state leaders, including the governor, who made punishment for cities attempting to decrease police funding one of his emergency items this year.