After some big moves from pro-voter lawmakers (all the way to Washington D.C.), this first special session of the Texas Legislature has been at a standstill due to the break of quorum. This means that enough lawmakers left to prevent any votes from taking place. This play was made to stop the passage of the anti-voter bill Governor Greg Abbott is determined to make law along with other egregious bills on his priority list covering abortion, critical race theory, bail funds, and transgender kids in sports. Because of the quorum break, nothing can happen until two thirds of the members are back in the chamber. 

Gov. Abbott has made several threats to these pro-voter lawmakers, and the Speaker of the House has issued warrants for their arrests as soon as they step foot back in the state.

But none have been as gross an abuse of power as Governor Abbott’s  veto of Article X in the state budget. During the regular session when Democrats broke quorum the first time, Gov. Abbott vetoed the entire budget for the legislative branch – you know, just like totally normal democracy stuff. 

The kicker is that in the midst of the Governor’s little temper tantrum, real people are getting hurt. And no, we are not even talking about the legislators whose payment is guaranteed in the Texas constitution. Who this really hurts is their employees and the folks who make the capitol run, amounting to over 2,000 public servants working in the Texas capitol – from staffers, to cafeteria workers and custodians.

Art by Graciela Blandon

The Governor’s Veto impacts the salaries of the people who do the nitty gritty research and business across several state agencies and the civil service workers who power the capitol. In the quest for his voter suppression scheme, the Governor is holding the healthcare and paychecks away from hardworking state employees. It is clear, Governor Abbott only views working Texans as dispensable pawns in his radical political game. 

In defense of our public servants, Texas Democrats took up a lawsuit with the state’s Supreme Court, arguing that the veto is unconstitutional and “grants the executive branch unconstitutional coercive authority over the legislative branch.”

Current Republican Speaker of the House Dade Phelan went on to say, “My concern is how it impacts staff[…]and the agencies it impacts[…]I’m just concerned how it impacts them because they weren’t the ones who decided that we were gonna break quorum, it wasn’t their decision, right?”

So, like….we ALL know this is some bullshit.

The Texas Supreme Court ruling could come any day now. We will see if they uphold Gov. Abbott’s veto or deem it unconstitutional. If this isn’t sorted by the end of the month, all employees in the legislative branch will lose their paychecks and their benefits. The state desperately needs to figure out its shit before the next two-year budget cycle starts on Sept. 1.