Texas Governor Greg Abbott slammed the Austin City Council for its decision to strip $150 million from the capital city’s police department.
“Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety,” Governor Abbott said in a written statement. “Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness.”
The entire Austin City Council voted to cut $150 million from the city’s police department budget on Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported.
“This moment has been born out of a lot of hurt in the community,” Austin City Councilman Greg Casar said during the council’s Thursday meeting. “We know we have a long way to go.”
Casar drafted the plan to cut the Austin Police Department budget by about one-third, the Tribune reported. His plan calls for an immediate cut of about $20 million. The plan calls for some of the budget cuts to be diverted to fund abortion and food access programs. The plan also calls for $80 million to be diverted over time to move divisions from the police department to civilian functions including forensics, support services, and victims’ services. Another $50 million will go to a “Reimagine Safety Fund” to create alternative forms of public safety.
The council also eliminated the current 150 slots for now-vacant officer positions.
Late last month, Austin City Councilman Jimmy Flannigan made headlines by calling for the “expedited demolition” of the Austin police headquarters building, Breitbart Texas reported.
“We should expedite the demolition of the APD Headquarters by directing the City Manager to move all remaining APD staff out of the existing headquarters building and into other underutilized city facilities,” District 6 Councilman Flannigan wrote in his plan posted on AustinCouncilForum.org.
Austin resident Mackenzie Kelly, Flannigan’s opponent in an upcoming city council election, called Flannigan’s proposal, “Nothing is more symbolic of recent efforts to de-fund the police than this scheme to demolish Austin Police Headquarters,” in an interview with The Hayride political blog. “If anyone for even a second thinks that these proposals are designed to save money or increase accountability, remember that Jimmy Flannigan is now proposing swinging a wrecking ball at the very heart of law and order in our city.”
In a Facebook post, she called Flannigan’s proposal “reckless and completely unthinkable.”
Governor Abbott vowed to have the Texas Legislature address the issue when it meets in Austin next year.
“In the meantime,” Abbott stated, “the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our city.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face