Piece of Mind: Abbott Reaches Too Far

Aug 24, 2020

By John Kanelis

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is angry with the Austin City Council.

He is so angry that he is threatening to meddle into a level of government that is none of the governor's business. He said the city's decision to "defund" its police department might result in the state imposing a property tax freeze, which would deprive the city of any sort of budgeting flexibility, which is essential to the governing body.

C'mon, governor! What happened to your belief in local control? What happened to the traditional Republican mantra that local government is best to settle local issues?

The judgment on whether the city council acted wisely in defunding the police department and reallocating funds to human service programs is up to the voters of the city. It is not the governor's call!

To be honest, I am not a “defund the police” kind of fellow. There certainly is room to reform police departments that have chronic, systemic problems with the way they treat members of the community they serve. Defunding them, though, is counterproductive and it punishes the good cops who get caught up in the middle of this political fight.

The council voted to cut $150 million from the police department's $434 million annual budget. Is that the right call? It's not for me to decide, or for the governor for that matter, either. The decision should come from the city's voting public.

This is a reactionary decision on the part of the governor. The Dallas Morning News published an editorial that takes appropriate note of the governor's decision to deploy Department of Public Safety troopers to cities to help fight spikes in crime, which he did this past year in Dallas. That's all fine and is in keeping with the governor's commitment to protecting the safety of Texans.

The DMN editorial also points out that budget matters belong solely to the city and its governing council. The governor should butt out! Read the editorial here.

The governor should concentrate on issues that are relevant to the constitutional authority invested in his office, not seek to meddle in matters that belong exclusively to our cities.

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, 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.