Texas’ most populous and Democrat-run county has allegedly defunded some of its law enforcement agencies in violation of state law, according to a letter from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
In the letter, Hegar accused Harris County commissioners of defunding local constables and warned that the county would not be allowed to implement its proposed 2023 budget if it does not reverse course.
“Harris County abruptly ended a long-standing policy to ‘automatically rollover’ unspent departmental funds from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year, resulting in a loss of more than $3 million in funds previously dedicated to the Constables Office in FY 2021-2022 being returned to the general fund,” Hegar wrote. “Harris County proposed a planning budget for FY 2022-2023 on Feb. 8, 2022 that reduced funding to the Constables Office by over $12 million, as compared to short FY 2022. While the recently published revised planning budget for FY 2022-2023 increases funding to the Constables Office, it still represents a $3 million reduction in overall funding.”
Hegar wrote that his office would also be investigating if the “budgeting practices of Harris County may not provide the Constables Office with full authority to expend their allocated budget to meet public safety needs.”
“I urge the Harris County Commissioners Court to review its budgetary support for its Constables Office and restore funding lost due to the decision to end ‘rollover’ budgeting,” Hegar added. “It must reverse its proposal to reduce funding FY 2023 or it must allow its residents to voice their opinion through an election held for the purpose of approving these actions. Further, the County should eliminate any excessive restrictions that prevent the Constables Office from accessing its budget.”
In response to the news that Harris County was defunding law enforcement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement slamming the actions of Democrat County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who functions as the county’s highest ranking official.
“The dangerous actions taken by Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County represent a brazen disregard for the safety and security of the Texans they are sworn to protect,” Abbott said. “The loss of millions of dollars in funding will endanger public safety across the county at a time when Texas law enforcement is working harder than ever to keep criminals and dangerous drugs out of our communities. Harris County continues to show complete negligence for public safety, as the same county whose revolving door bail program releases dangerous criminals back onto the streets to commit more violent crimes like murder. While Harris County politicizes the public safety of its citizens, the State of Texas will ensure our brave law enforcement partners have the resources necessary for this solemn responsibility.”
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