Police Budget Cuts Payback Plan Gives
GOP Riot Complicity Charge Push Back

Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside
January 22, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott is trying to give Texas Republicans an issue to run on next year with a plan that he pitched on Thursday as the key to keeping the state safe with the ability to retaliate against cities that slash spending on police.

Abbott sought to sell law enforcement officials on the proposal at a meeting as former FBI director James Comey advised fellow Republicans to burn the GOP down so it can be rebuilt from scratch in the aftermath of Donald Trump's ruthless and disasterious rule as party leader.

With Abbott on the ballot in 2022 if he seeks re-election as expected, the governor can't afford to wait for a phoenix to rise from the ashes and appears to see the local police protection proposal as a way to help prevent a full-scale Republican Party razing.

The governor appears to be confident that GOP state lawmakers will rubber-stamp the proposal without a whisper of opposition based on the bill caption alone without consideration of the plan's actual merit and motivation that's been purely political up to now. GOP legislators could be all the more inclined to back Abbott at a time when they've been scared to say or do anything that might provoke the GOP's militant new voters who Trump brought into the fold.

Abbott has appeared to be undaunted by the possibility that GOP's credibility on the issue of public safety might have been destroyed by its association with a president who's been accused of high crimes against America after inciting the riot that claimed five lives at the U.S. Capitol after erupting at a Trump rally.

The fact that one of the Trump insurrection victims was a Capitol police officer hasn't been a major concern for the governor who's said the ex-president shouldn't be held criminally accountable for the assault regardless of whether he'd been the chief instigator.

Abbott will hope for a unanimous show of support among Republican lawmakers who know that the proposal wouldn't affect the areas they represent anytime soon. While the proposal would be implemented statewide, it would only apply to the city of Austin as a thinly-veiled partisan public relations ploy that seeks to capitalize on a council vote last summer for a police reform plan.

Abbott and other Republicans have sought to create the impression that liberal local leaders effectively voted to shut down law enforcement here in a move that's turned Austin into one of the nation's most dangerous cities.

The governor has pointed to a spike in homicides here last year as proof while ignoring the fact that Austin has long had one of the lowest violent crime rates among the major Texas cities and that longtime residents feel just as safe now as they always have.

The total number of murders here in 2020 appears to have been abberation that's a product of the pandemic in a country where homicides increased significantly in every major American city. But Abbott hasn't mentioned that Fort Worth had a significant larger increase in homicides last year or that the vault in murders in Lubbock was almost two times higher in 2020 than in Austin.

The truth is that the Austin council actually voted in August to shift some funding for conventional patrols to new and reshuffled priorities in the fallout from protests against police brutality and social injustice. The Abbott plan could be a slam dunk nonetheless as a largely symbolic move that would give Republicans in re-election races a talking point for migitation and push back when Democrats are trying to tie GOP foes to one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in history as a result of their affliation with Trump.




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