Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is proposing a measure that would prevent Texas cities from raising their property taxes forever if they defund their police department.
Abbott, says the measure would freeze property tax revenues at current levels, which he hopes will discourage cities from defunding their local police.
“Part of our job as state leaders is to ensure the safety and security of all Texans, and we will not allow this core function to be undermined by cities that seek to defund and dismantle law enforcement agencies that have a sworn duty to protect our communities,” Abbott said, according to the press release.
“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 proposal comes as protesters across the nation demand police reform and calls to reduce police funding grow. The Austin City Council approved a budget that will cut police funding by one-third and reinvest the money in social services, while San Antonio’s proposed 2021 budget increases police funding by $8 million but cuts overtime and funds health and violence prevention programs, according to the Texas Tribune.
The Austin Police Department has come under fire for killing an unarmed black and Latino man in April. Police received a call that Mike Ramos was allegedly doing drugs with a woman in a car and pointing a gun at her. Upon arrival, footage shows Ramos complying with the officer’s request to get out of the car and to lift his shirt and put his hands up, according to KUT.
An officer can be heard telling him to walk toward police and warns him he will be “impacted” if he does not listen. Ramos can be heard saying “Don’t shoot, yo!” and telling officers he does not have a gun while staying near the car, per the same report. Officer Mitchell Pieper then fired a lead pellet-filled bag at Ramos, which police consider a “less lethal” option, according to KUT. Ramos got back in his car and attempted to drive away before another officer shot at the car three times, killing Ramos.
Austin Police again came under scrutiny in May after injuring a 20 year old black protester with the “less lethal” ammunition during a George Floyd protest, according to The Texas Tribune.
Abbott says there are other alternatives to solving police brutality that do not involve defunding the police while speaking at a press conference in Fort Worth on Tuesday where he was joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and other lawmakers, according to The Texas Tribune. (RELATED: Fort Worth Police Chief Dropping Charges Against Rioters)
“If we have police brutality, we don’t need fewer police, we need less police brutality, and so we need to take action, whether it be as a Legislature or in police departments or whatever the case may be,” Abbott said. “We do need to take action to ensure that law enforcement officers are trained in ways in which they will not engage in policy brutality.”