Harris County leaders vote to sue Texas comptroller Glenn Hegar over budget threat – Houston Public Media
Harris County is preparing to retaliate against Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar for his decision to potentially freeze the county’s budget. County leaders voted along partisan lines to take legal action against the Comptroller.
The three Democrats on the court – Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia – voted in favor of legal action. The three also voted in favor of a deal to hire two outside law firms, Yetter Coleman LLP and Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP, ahead of a possible trial. Republican Commissioner Jack Cagle voted “a vehement no”. Republican Commissioner Tom Ramsey was absent on a long-planned vacation to celebrate his 50th birthdaye wedding anniversary.
The move comes a week after Comptroller Glenn Hegar accused county leaders of cutting funding for two precincts in the upcoming budget by no longer allowing departments to carry over leftover money from the previous year.
Hegar threatened to summon Senate Bill 23, which prohibits counties with more than one million residents from cutting law enforcement funding without first going through voters to approve the proposed budget. Failure to do so, or retracting the so-called budget cuts, would force the county to significantly reduce its ad valorem tax rate.
Governor Greg Abbott immediately endorsed Hegar’s action in a press release.
Judge Lina Hidalgo argued that instead, Hegar is the one threatening to defund the Harris County police if he blocks passage of the county budget. She also hinted that the lawsuit could be extended to Governor Abbott, saying Hegar was indeed acting under her direction.
“I’m not asking for this fight. The last thing our community needs is for their public health, their law enforcement to actually be publicly funded. But if they try to do that, we need to fight back,” Hidalgo said. “I’m quite averse to giving in to any form of extortion.”
The county must approve its budget for the new fiscal year by October 1.
Judge Hidalgo said that, far from cutting police funding, the county’s proposed budget would increase funding for all branches of law enforcement in the county by more than $90 million. She argued that her administration has steadily increased funding for all county law enforcement, including Mounties, since taking office in 2019.
Commissioner Garcia made a similar point in explaining his vote for a trial. “It’s not the action I would have preferred to see decided today,” Garcia said. state, this action is necessary.”
Hegar, Abbott, Cagle, Hidalgo and Garcia are all eligible for re-election in November.
To subscribe to Today in Houston
Complete the form below to subscribe to our new daily HPM Newsroom editorial newsletter.