AUSTIN, Texas — After nine months of relentless GOP attacks in the state legislature, Texans are well aware of their governor’s willingness to sacrifice our rights and wellbeing for a couple of rightwing primary votes. If any doubt remains, however, Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest additions to the special session agenda have served to quash it. With his two new agenda items announced Wednesday, Abbott is making a barefaced play to co-opt the legislative process for his own political gain — once again diverting legislative time and taxpayer dollars to advance his own political agenda.
Abbott’s addition of property tax reform can only be read as a response to pressure from his further-right primary opponent Don Huffines, who over the summer ramped up an ad campaign around eliminating property taxes. The eleventh-hour pivot by Abbott is a clear bid to shore up primary support — and yet another example of Abbott hijacking the legislature to advance his own agenda. Meanwhile, Abbott’s attempt to tighten bail restrictions will almost certainly disproportionately affect Texans of color, who face major discrimination in the criminal justice system — once again harming Texans in order to pander to extreme-right voters.
Glaringly missing from Abbott’s last-minute additions — and from his last three legislative agendas — are the biggest issues facing Texans. People across our state continue to wait in vain for our governor to prioritize life-and-death issues including fixing the grid, expanding health care, and protecting Texans from COVID-19.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“I am infuriated but not surprised to see Greg Abbott once again co-opting our legislative process to advance his own personal agenda. Today, Abbott added two agenda items for our lawmakers that have everything to do with pandering to rightwing voters ahead of a contested GOP primary, and nothing to do with the biggest issues facing Texans.
“Abbott found time to add his niche agenda items to the legislative session, but he hasn’t found a minute to spare to fix our crumbling power grid, get more people health care in the most uninsured state in the country, or protect Texans from the pandemic that continues to devastate our communities. Real leaders put people first — not their personal agenda and political gain. Texans deserve better than Greg Abbott, and Texas Democrats are doing everything we can to send Abbott packing next November.”