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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vows to defund state Legislature after voting restrictions bill fails, threatening salaries

(Jordan Vonderhaar/The Texas Tribune)

By Patrick Svitek

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would veto the section of the state budget that funds the Legislature hours after a Democratic walkout killed his priority elections bill.


"No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," Abbott said in a tweet. "Stay tuned."

Late Sunday night, enough Democrats left the House to break a quorum and block passage of the elections bill, Senate Bill 7, before a midnight deadline. Calling the bill's failure "deeply disappointing," Abbott quickly made clear he would call a special session to get it passed, though he has not specified a timeline.

Abbott's tweet referred to Article X of the budget, which pays not only lawmakers and staff but also funds legislative agencies, such as the Legislative Budget Board. Under the current budget, the legislative branch is funded through the end of August, and the budget Abbott is referring to covers the fiscal year starting Sept. 1.

Abbott has until June 20 to carry out the veto.

State lawmakers are paid $600 a month, equal to $7,200 per year. They also get a per diem of $221 for every day they are in session, including both regular and special sessions.

Democratic legislators quickly criticized Abbott's veto announcement.

"This would eliminate the branch of government that represents the people and basically create a monarchy," state Rep. Donna Howard of Austin tweeted.

SB 7 was one of Abbott's emergency items, as was another proposal that died Sunday that would have made it harder for people arrested to bond out of jail without cash.

Abbott's tweet came minutes before the House adjourned sine die, finishing its regular session. In remarks from the dais, GOP Speaker Dade Phelan acknowledged lawmakers had unfinished business.

"We will be back — when, I don't know, but we will be back," Phelan told members. "There's a lot of work to be done, but I look forward to doing it with every single one of you."

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