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Texas Gov. Abbott signs legislative proposal aimed at stopping local governments' efforts to defund police departments

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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new legislative proposal Thursday aimed at stopping efforts to defund police departments after many advocates have called for the slashing of budgets following the death of George Floyd.

Abbott and other state leaders, such as House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton and members of the Austin Police Association signed the “Back The Blue” pledge.

“Cities must prioritize public safety. The last thing they should do -- is to defund law enforcement. And yet, that is exactly what the city of Austin has done and is what the Dallas County City Council voted to do and announcing its own defunding scheme last night,” Abbott said.

READ: Austin cuts police budget by 1/3 amid national ‘defund’ push

He said other cities in Texas may be considering the same thing, which is why he proposed the new legislation. The new proposal will make it harder for local governments efforts to defund police departments, Abbott said.

He said defunding police departments will put residents in danger and cause chaos.

“It invites crimes into communities and we cannot allow this to happen in Texas,” Abbott said.

READ: When protesters push to ‘defund the police,’ what does it mean?

To discourage cities from defunding law enforcement, the governor announced the legislative proposal in August that will defund cities that defund law enforcement agencies. On Thursday, he announced an additional proposal that will make it even more difficult for cities to defund local law enforcement.

How could the legislation work?

Abbott said under the proposal cities would forever lose their annexation powers, and any areas and any residents that have ever been annexed by that city in the past will have the power to vote to disannex them from the city.

“Combined together, all of these proposals will make it physically, financially impossible to defund law enforcement and it should leave Austin with no choice but to restore the cuts that they already made to law enforcement,” Abbott said.

Where does Houston’s mayor stand on defunding the police?

In June, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called for more funding to support social services in an effort to take pressure off of police officers who have to respond to issues that he said shouldn’t necessarily fall to law enforcement.

Houston also increased its police budget by $20 million following police reforms issued by the mayor.

“We actually got a $20 million increase to be able to fund our five academy classes so we can continue to add police officers on our streets,” said Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union. “(Families) want to feel secure taking their kids to school, they want to be able to go to the park, and they want to be able to run their business. But we can’t do those things if crime is out of control.”

Watch the full news conference below:

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, September 10, 2020

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