From the inbox:
A Travis County District Court temporarily blocked Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s determination that Harris County defunded the Precinct 5 Constable’s office in violation of state law. The order means the Comptroller’s determination as to Harris County’s budget is currently legally ineffective; he’s prohibited from reinstating it.
“I’m glad the courts are blocking Comptroller Hegar from his misguided attacks on Harris County,” said Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee. “Comptroller Hegar violated the law. It’s clear. We’re prepared to fight this in the courts until he does the right thing by the people of Harris County and withdraws his determination. We’re seeing a pattern of state officials trying to get in the business of disrupting Harris County government to score political points. We are not going to stand for it; the five million residents of Harris County deserve better.”
Today’s ruling blocks Comptroller Hegar’s determination that Harris County violated Chapter 120. He made that determination by taking the Precinct 5 budget for the County’s 2022 short fiscal year, annualizing it, and then reasoning that because that annualized number was greater than Precinct 5’s budget for fiscal year 2023, the county violated Chapter 120. That is legally incorrect, even applying the Comptroller’s own math. Chapter 120 requires that if a county’s overall budget decreases from one budget year to the next, a prohibited funding reduction occurs only if the police agency’s share of the county’s overall budget has decreased over that same period. Harris County did not violate that standard because using the Comptroller’s math, Harris County’s overall budget decreases from his annualized version of the 2022 short fiscal year budget to the County’s fiscal year 2023 budget, while Precinct 5’s share of the County’s budget increases.
The next hearing is set for March 23, 2023. A copy of the county’s lawsuit is available here.
See here and here for the background. There’s a Chron story, but it’s mostly this press release plus some others. As was the case the last time around, it looks like this flimsy pretextual claim by the Comptroller is going to get stopped. Hopefully he’ll concede and withdraw the claim like he did the last time. And then hopefully he won’t go for a three-peat. Hopefully.