HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Comptroller Glenn Hegar have walked back their comments stating Harris County commissioners defunded county law enforcement, according to a release from Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia. However, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office says they haven’t been notified of state agencies "walking back" anything.
According to Garcia, the move was made after Harris County filed a lawsuit against Abbott and Hegar to block them from abusing their powers and tying up the county's 2022 budgeting process.
Garcia said that Abbott and Hegar, through their attorney, walked back their claims that Harris County's proposed budget violated Senate Bill 23. He says they also admitted the state hasn't determined that Harris County's proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 reduces funding for law enforcement.
Finally, Garcia said they admitted the state is not investigating whether Harris County's proposed budget reduced funding for law enforcement.
According to the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office, the agency was in contact with the Comptroller's Office and the Texas Attorney General's Office after the court hearing on Tuesday. The constable's office says their complaint with the state is still being investigated.
In a statement Wednesday morning, the Constable's Office said, "As you have heard a court yesterday failed to issue Harris County a restraining order pertaining to our department’s defunding complaint with the State of Texas. Our agency has been in contact with both the Comptroller’s office and the Attorney General’s office yesterday after the court hearing, and our complaint with the State is currently active and still under investigation. Our office has not received anything in writing or verbally from these two agencies of the State ‘walking back’ anything previously provided to Harris County? We ask for everyone’s patience while our complaint is currently investigated and worked on by both the county and the State. There will be no further comments from our agency at this time."
Late last month, Hegar sent a letter to state leaders along with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the rest of the Commissioners Court, saying the county ending its policy to "automatically rollover" funds from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year, resulted in more than $3 million in funds that were meant for local constables to be returned to the general fund.
"This latest admission by state officials proves Harris County has and continues to prioritize public safety spending to the highest degree. I’m glad that Gov. Abbott and Comptroller Hegar seemingly have come to their senses and recognize the same," said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said in the release. "This is not just a win for Harris County residents, but also for local governments across the state of Texas, who know better than anyone in Austin does on how to govern to keep their counties safe."
According to Garcia, the parties are expected to reach an agreement making clear that neither the Governor, nor the Comptroller, will be investigating, nor making a determination of the county's proposed budget under Senate Bill 23.