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Piece of Mind: Abbott Inflicts Collateral Damage With Veto

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Gov. Abbott vetoes legislative funds and robs full-time staffers of their livelihood.

Gov. Greg Abbott is playing hardball, all right.

Except that he has aimed his “high hard fastball” at hundreds of legislative staffers who do not deserve to suffer from the governor’s anger.

Get a load of this: Abbott has vetoed funds appropriated by the 2021 Legislature to pay legislators’ salaries … such as they are. The veto also takes aim at staffers’ salaries, the folks who do the hard work on behalf of the elected members of the Texas House and Senate.

Abbott is angry with House Democrats who walked off the floor of the legislative assembly in its waning hours. They managed to deny the Legislature a quorum needed to enact a controversial voter overhaul bill that Abbott said he wanted to sign into law. Oh, the law happens to be a turkey that has drawn the unified wrath of the Texas Democratic legislative caucus. It seeks to empower judges to more easily overturn election results, it reduces early voting opportunities, it takes a hard line against mail-in voting. In short, the GOP proposal makes it more difficult for Texans to vote.

The Democratic caucus opposes the effort to restrict voting opportunities.

Abbott’s punishment is much too broad and inflicts far too many collateral casualties.

“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement while vetoing the legislative funding measure. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”

But again, what about the hardworking legislative staffers who have been caught in this game of political football? They need not be punished along with their legislators.

This isn’t my idea of good government. It’s heavy-handed government dictated by a governor who is letting his petulance get in the way of level-headed public policy.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.

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