The Texas state House of Representatives passed a bill to financially penalize large Texan cities that cut their police budgets in a preliminary 91–55 vote Thursday.
H.B. 1900 stipulates that cities with more than 250,000 residents that slash police funding will have their sales-tax revenue re-appropriated to finance the expenses of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Houston Chronicle reported. The faulted cities will also be prohibited from raising property-tax rates or utility rates, to prevent the municipalities from recouping the money losses.
The bill still awaits a final vote on the House floor before it can advance to the Senate. The legislation was sponsored by Republican state representatives Craig Goldman, Will Metcalf, Greg Bonnen, and Angie Chen Button, as well as Democrat Richard Peña Raymond.
The bill does permit cities to reduce police department budgets if the cut is proportionally equal to an overall city budget cut or if the state sees an increase in other expenses from capital expenditure or disaster response, the Chronicle said.
“As municipalities across this nation are defunding their police departments, are taking money away from the police budgets and putting them elsewhere in their city budgets, this bill makes sure that in the state of Texas, that is not going to be allowed,” Goldman said on the House floor Thursday.
“You invest more in training our law enforcement officers, not less. That’s how you make it better,” Raymond said.
Governor Greg Abbott voiced his support for the bill in a tweet Thursday. “The Texas House is passing a law that cracks down on cities that try to defund the police. In Texas, we don’t demonize or defund the police. Instead, we #BackTheBlue,” he wrote.
Critics of the legislation, such as Democratic state Representative Jasmine Crockett, believe it ignores the problem of police brutality and the need for reform in the policing system.
“This summer we saw protests in the streets, we also saw elected officials decide to make decisions because of police brutality,” Crockett said on the House floor. “We refuse to improve policing in this state. Instead, we attack those who are trying to care for our citizens.”