Jack Cagle, Tom Ramsey skip commissioners court for 3rd time as budget impasse continues

The deadline is October 28

HARRIS COUNTY – The impasse over the Harris County budget continued Tuesday with Republican commissioners skipping a meeting for a third time in a row, blocking the Democratic majority commissioners court from adopting a new proposed tax rate.

“We know how when there’s a 3-2 majority, these days, debate works. If we can have a fair discussion without the axe laid bare at the table, I would be delighted to be there,” Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner Jack Cagle said in an interview with KPRC 2 News.

Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is still recovering from illness, said she showed up against medical advice hoping Cagle and Precinct 3 commissioner Tom Ramsey would appear to vote on funding for law enforcement.

“I want to acknowledge the law enforcement officers that are here. Part of the reason I came, against doctor’s orders, was in the hope that one of my colleagues would show up and we’d be able to pass the budget to be able to fund 8.25% in raises to be able to fund $100 million in prosecutors and constables and police officers, and also, our hospital system,” she said.

The commissioner’s courtroom was packed inside and out with uniformed law enforcement officers who said they were there to support Cagle and Ramsey’s absence. The crowd booed and interrupted Judge Hidalgo and she ended the meeting early saying her doctors told her to rest for the next few days. With the meeting down to just two commissioners, there was no longer a quorum and no action could be taken on several items related to law enforcement.

“I remind folks people get sick, ok. I didn’t ask to be in the emergency room twice in one week. But again, the meeting could certainly continue if folks who have no medical claim not to be here were here,” Hidalgo said.

Judge Hidalgo says she hopes to reset Tuesday’s meeting for Friday or next week.

The deadline to adopt a new tax rate is Oct. 28.

STATEMENT FROM COMMISSIONER TOM RAMSEY:

“I am disappointed by the lack of leadership coming from Judge Hidalgo to get this resolved. She has yet to respond to Commissioner Cagle’s request for a special meeting, and concluded today’s meeting without a plan on how to handle the budget proposals. Judge Hidalgo and Commissioners Ellis and Garcia continue to retaliate against Precinct 3 and 4 constituents for their wishes of a more fiscally responsible budget. Keeping our projects off the consent agenda are not actions of people who want to compromise. Punishing constituents and withholding payments to contractors that are unrelated to our budget and tax discussions are out of line, unprofessional, and flat-out wrong.”

STATEMENT FROM COMMISSIONER RODNEY ELLIS:

“We have an obligation to pass a budget that best serves Harris County and protects the health, safety, and well-being of every community. Commissioners R. Jack Cagle and Tom S. Ramsey are recklessly blocking a budget that makes urgently needed investments in public safety, health care, violence prevention, flood protection and other vital services that people need and deserve.

I’m open to hearing any proposal from them that also does that, but I’ve yet to see anything at all. We can’t debate people who don’t show up, and we can’t discuss a plan that doesn’t exist. But even fake plans have real consequences. They are forcing Harris County to gut vital services and playing a dangerous game with the lives, health, and safety of Harris County families to score political points.

It’s time they put politics aside to do what’s right for the people of Harris County.”


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