Voters would have to approve police budget cuts under bill approved by Texas Senate

The Texas Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent local governments from cutting their law enforcement budgets without voter approval.

It was the Legislature’s most substantial move yet in a political war over police funding in Texas that was sparked last summer. The in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and fatal police shooting of Mike Ramos in Austin prompted protests against police brutality and racial injustice and strengthened calls to change policing practices, ultimately leading the city of Austin to cut its police budget.

Senate Bill 23, authored by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would require cities or counties to hold an election before reducing police funding. Senators approved the legislation on a 28-2 vote with broad bipartisan support, despite numerous Democrats harshly criticizing the legislation as a political ploy.