23 Texas laws came into effect on 1st January 2022. Most of these were straightforward. However, 1 of it related to public safety, raised a lot of controversies as the same got passed by the legislature of Texas.
The Republican officials said that ‘Senate Bill 23, it is intended for fighting against counties and cities which are trying to change the budget of police.’
‘They aren’t allowed to reduce any funds or reallocate without securing voter approval,’ said Jennifer Szymanski, a Texas Public Affairs coordinator of Combined Law Enforcement Associations.
Is there anyone in support of SB 23?
The coordinator represents CLEAT and supports SB 23 that requires 1 million residents+ counties to hold the vote before any change is made in respect to reallocation or redirection of the police budgets.
The effort made by the Republicans to protect the budget cut in the police department is the direct response to the decision of the Austin City Council for reimagining the police budget or for the reallocation of the services out of control of the police.
Ken Casaday, the President of the Austin Police Association, attributed the higher crime rate across the city because of the police officers’ lack.
He said, ‘You have this bill to help, but it’s up to the city council and the city manager to do what’s right.’ According to him, they cannot do much as they are understaffed. This is why they cannot handle all the traffic fatalities, homicides, and shootings that keep happening downtown over weekends.
What does the Mayor say?
The Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, made an argument that the Austin city police budget is higher than previous ones and that the positions are well-funded. According to him, the ongoing struggle is bringing the officers in the door.
The democrats of Texas who raised the concerns on SB23 said that it would be causing micromanagement to the county commissioners and the city councils.
SB23 will not affect Travis County until and unless it decides to change the budget further in the next fiscal year.
Another similar bill that was passed in 2021 is the House Bill 1900. It came into effect in September 2021, and it freezes the cities (250,000 residents+) property taxes which will try to reduce the funding of the police in comparison to the previous year, while they redirect the sales tax revenues towards the Public Safety, Texas Department.