© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government/Politics

Former Legislative Leaders From Both Parties Oppose Abbott Veto Of Legislative Funding As State Defends Him

Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan gave updates on their plan for Texas to build its own border wall at a press conference at the Texas Capitol on June 16.
Sophie Park
/
The Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan gave updates on their plan for Texas to build its own border wall at a press conference at the Texas Capitol on June 16.

In a new court filing, the attorney general's office said the governor properly used his veto power when he nixed funding for the Legislature in response to House Democrats walkout over a Republican priority bill on elections.

The state is defending Gov. Greg Abbott's recent veto of legislative funding as a bipartisan group of former state leaders — as well as more Democrats — weigh in against the governor.

The state faced a Monday deadline to respond to a Democratic lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to overturn Abbott's veto, which he issued after House Democrats staged a walkout that killed Republicans' priority elections bill at the end of the regular session in May. Abbott has promised to bring back the bill in a special session and scheduled one to begin Thursday; he has not announced the agenda yet.

“The Governor properly exercised the veto power bestowed upon him by the Texas Constitution and acted consistently with this Court’s precedent," the state said in its response. "Under the Texas Constitution, the Governor has the exclusive power to disapprove any bill."

At the same time, three former state leaders filed an amicus brief arguing Abbott's veto is "an attempt to intimidate members of the Legislature and circumvent democracy." The brief was filed by former House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican; former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat; and former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a Republican.

The brief says Abbott's move "should rebuked by people of all political persuasions."

Abbott's veto stripped a portion of the state budget that funds the Legislature, its staffers and legislative agencies. The budget covers the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1, and Abbott has raised the prospect that he could give lawmakers the opportunity to restore the funding in a special session before then.

The state cited that possibility in its response, arguing Democrats lack standing because they have not been affected by the veto yet.

Get our biggest scoops and breaking stories, delivered to your inbox

Whatever happens, though, the state argued that Abbott's veto was constitutionally sound and the courts "have no role to play in such a textbook political-branch dispute."

Another amicus brief surfaced Monday that argued against Abbott's veto and was signed by all 13 Democrats in the Texas Senate, as well as a group of law professors and a few current and former Republican elected officials. The GOP signees included state Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio, as well as former state Reps. Jimmie Don Aycock of Killeen and Sarah Davis of West University Place.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.