Gov. Greg Abbott prioritized reforming the Child Protective Services, banning sanctuary cities, reforming legislative ethics and amending the U.S. Constitution during his State of the State address on Tuesday morning.
“For decades now, the federal government has grown out of control,” Abbott said. “It has increasingly abandoned the Constitution. It has stiff-armed the states and ignored its very own citizens.”
Designated emergency items can be passed anytime within the first 60 days during the 140-day session as opposed to regular legislation.
One of Abbott’s emergency items involves amending the Constitution with a “Convention of States.” Such a convention requires 34 state legislatures to join. Abbott proposed a balanced budget amendment be added to the Constitution. It would be the second constitutional convention in U.S. history since the first in 1787.
Abbott also prioritized CPS reform. Abbott said $142.4 million in state emergency funding for CPS back in December would not ease the backlog of cases due to a lack of CPS employees and families wanting to foster or adopt children. Abbott said more than 100 children died in CPS care last year.
“We can reform the system so that no more children die in it,” Abbott said. “We need more workers, better training, smarter strategies and real accountability in order to safeguard our children.”
Abbott also said he will secure the border and supports Senate Bill 4, which proposes a ban on sanctuary cities in Texas. Sanctuary cities implement policies where the state and local governments do not alert federal authorities about undocumented immigrants, according to The Washington Post. The bill is scheduled for public hearing Thursday morning for further discussion.
“What must be stopped is illegal immigration and worse, the criminals who conspire with cartels to enter the United States illegally,” Abbott said. “This is the session when we will ban sanctuary cities in Texas.
Abbott added those elected officials who do not comply with immigration law enforcement will be removed and cities defunded. Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said she will enact a policy tomorrow to restrict Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from detaining undocumented immigrants in local jails without warrants.
“Elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws they will obey,” Abbott said. “Some law enforcement officials in Texas are openly refusing to enforce an existing law. That is unacceptable.”
Throughout his speech, Abbott criticized the state legislature for not modifying its already tight budget to include his priorities, thus placing a freeze on state agencies’ hirings until the end of August.
“This should free up about 200 million in our current budget,” Abbott said. “I am confident that we are going to be able to balance the budget without looting the rainy day fund.”
Abbott’s focus on Texas children included school choice and state funding for schools.
“Both the House and the Senate are right to tackle the vexing issue of school financing now,” Abbott said. “We can try to flood money to every school in the state or, we could more efficiently empower parents to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs.”
Abbott also made it a “hate crime” to target police, recalling the Dallas police shooting in July, which killed five officers.
“The victims were killed because of the uniform they wear,” Abbott said. “We will rise up as a state in support of our law enforcement.”