The Texas House passed House Bill 1900 on Friday with a vote of 90-49. If approved by the Senate, and signed into law by the governor, HB 1900 would cap property tax rates in cities that cut funding for police and deduct from sales tax revenue the cost of state-provided law enforcement services.
The bill only affects cities with populations greater than 250,000 people – that’s 11 in Texas, including Austin. An ammendment to apply to the bill to all cities in Texas failed.
The Austin City Council made a decision in 2020 to cut $20 million from the Austin Police Department budget and unanimously voted to move $130 million from its budget to other safety programs. Governor Abbott has been very vocal this past year promising there would be consequences for cities that decrease police budgets.
Under the bill, a “defunding local government” is determined by comparing the money and personnel going toward law enforcement in a city’s budget to that of the previous year, starting this September.
The issue of ‘defunding police’ has increased around the nation in response to calls for racial justice and transformation of policing amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
If this bill is passed, it would go into effect September 1. It would not affect Austin unless it decided to reduce the budget further for the next fiscal year.