Governor Greg Abbott will discuss how the State of Texas is doing on Tuesday as a part of his State of the State Address. He is expected to release his emergency items, including sanctuary cities, the state budget and Child Protective Services.
An emergency item allows the governor to set his legislative priorities. The legislature is prohibited from passing bills in the first 60 days of the session unless it is an item the governor has declared as an emergency.
Abbott’s new agenda is expected to enthusiastically embrace President Donald Trump’s crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities. There is a battle brewing between Abbott and the newly elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez over this issue. Sheriff Hernandez released a statement describing how she will prohibit Travis County deputies and jailers from inquiring about someone’s immigration status.
The governor has threatened to cut off state and federal funding for not complying with a request from immigration officials to put a hold on jail inmates who may be here illegally. In Travis County, the funds amount to nearly $2 million.
Meanwhile, Hernandez says her office will prevent Immigration Customs and Enforcement, or ICE, from coming into county jails to deport immigrants. She says her jail will only hold inmates who are charged with serious crimes, like murder or aggravated assault. That policy goes into effect starting on Wednesday.
Former State Representative Sherri Greenberg points out one big issue as part of the disagreements.
“One of the problems with sanctuary cities, is that there is not a uniform definition and part of the discourse with sheriffs and others in law enforcement saying we are abiding by the law and Governor Abbott is saying no I have a different take on it,” said Greenberg.
The only bill that must pass this legislative session is the budget, which will most likely be one of the governor’s big talking points. With such a tight budget of $104.9 billion this year, down 2.7 percent from 2016, there is the potential for cuts.
This budget is going to be very different than last sessions, analysts are calling it a budget of subtractions. They say not only have we seen a decrease in sales tax, but last session, there was money dedicated to transportation.
The reason for the decrease in money this year is due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector. The state does have a rainy day fund, an economic stablilization fund, with over $11 billion in it.
Greenberg told KXAN there are various interest groups who are pushing for lawmakers to use those dollars now.
“They are saying look we’ve used it before, and we have some pressing needs, we should use it now, of course there is not going to be agreement and we will see how that plays out as well as some of these big budget issues,” said Greenberg.
The State of the State will be delivered at 11 a.m. inside the House Chamber.
(Information from KXAN.com)