Texas Democrats who walked out are unaffected by Greg Abbott’s veto of legislative pay.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has rejected payroll legislation, which might result in their staffers not being paid, in an effort to penalize the 50 Texas Democratic lawmakers who walked out of a session to defeat a Republican bill they feared would restrict voting rights.
This approach may not have the greatest impact on state legislators. While most Texas legislators work other professions to supplement their income, their staffers do not.
The livelihoods of the workers, according to Donovon Rodriguez, head of staff for a Democratic state lawmaker, felt like collateral damage in the fight for voting rights.
When the governor chooses to veto legislation, “there is always someone who feels left out, who feels betrayed,” Rodriguez told the Associated Press. “Unfortunately, this time it truly touches home.”
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Rodriguez is one of nearly 2,000 legislative employees who face being laid off after Abbott cut their pay from the state budget.
Employees who receive constituent calls and emails, assist in the research and writing of proposals, and otherwise keep a legislative session moving will not be working when the new budget begins on Sept. 1.
Some members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus have promised to foot the bill for their staffers’ salaries.
Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit against Abbott, alleging that his line-item veto of more than $400 million in salary funding was illegal. Rodriguez was named in the action, which is currently ongoing before the Texas Supreme Court. He earns $73,000 per year. Abbott’s office declined to comment, but previously stated that the governor had the “authority to disapprove any bill” under the Texas Constitution.
It’s unclear when the court will rule, which leaves state employees in uncertainty.
Paychecks may be reinstated during the current special legislative session, which is currently stalled.
According to Joshua Blank, director of research for the nonpartisan Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, Abbott’s move is unique, at least in recent Texas history, and will start an extraordinary constitutional dispute concerning separation of powers.
“The division of political power between the executive, legislative, and judicial departments is a foundational element of both the United States Constitution and most state governments, and it is rare to see such open debate about it. This is a condensed version of the information.