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Piece of Mind: Pay Legislative Staff, Governor

Dallas Morning News
Gov. Abbott will need to reinstate legislative staffers' pay.

Surely I am not the only Texas observer who sees a certain irony in Gov. Greg Abbott summoning legislators back to Austin for a special session ... given his veto of money to pay for legislative staffers' salaries.

Think of this for just a moment.

Abbott became angry with Texas House Democrats because they walked off the House floor to prevent a voter suppression bill to become law during the regular legislative session. He vetoed legislators' staff money to pay them back for failing to "do their job."

Then he called them back from their home districts to do some more work. I don't get it.

Abbott was prohibited from vetoing legislators' salaries, as it is guaranteed by the Texas Constitution. Indeed, we don't pay lawmakers very much money: $600 per month plus an expense stipend when they're in session. Legislators will continue to get their measly amount despite the governor's veto.

The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted 21-0 to reinstate the money that Gov. Abbott vetoed.

As the Texas Tribune reported: The veto applies to the thousands of staffers who work directly for lawmakers and several state agencies. Those agencies include the Legislative Reference Library, which conducts research for the Legislature; the Legislative Budget Board, which develops policy and budget recommendations and provides fiscal analyses for legislation; the Legislative Council, which helps draft and analyze potential legislation; the State Auditor’s Office, which reviews the state’s finances; and the Sunset Advisory Commission, which reviews the efficiency of state agencies.

Texas lawmakers take first steps to restore Legislature’s funding after veto | The Texas Tribune

I just happen to believe the governor's veto of this money and his quick action to summon everyone back to Austin drips with a certain irony that I cannot let go unnoticed.

I mean, someone has to do the work, right? Do we really think those staffers will do this grunt work for free? They certainly shouldn’t be asked to do it without getting paid.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, also is a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is retired but is still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis’s 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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