AUSTIN, TX — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the top financial officer for the State of Texas, issued guidance today to members of the Texas Legislature who might wish to decline or return all or part of their salaries and per diems to the state treasury.
“Certain members of the Texas Legislature have made the choice to abandon their responsibilities here in Texas and fly to Washington, D.C.,” Hegar said. “Texas taxpayers should not be held financially responsible for paying members who are not even in Texas, so I am providing instructions for those members detailing how they can return salaries and per diems to the state treasury, as well as instructions for declining future remuneration should they choose to remain in Washington in violation of the rules of their respective chambers.”
Texas Democrats fled aboard private chartered jets Tuesday to Washington , D.C. to break quorum in the Texas House of Representatives. There were 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives who departed Austin. The Texas Senate was able to keep its quorum and is passing legislation asked for by Gov. Greg Abbott.
When lawmakers aren't working, lawmakers shouldn't be paid, argued the Republican who sits in the Texas comptroller office.
Government Code Sec. 659.003 permits an elected or appointed officer of the state to decline all or a portion of his or her remuneration. This includes salary, compensatory per diem, expense per diem, reimbursement for expenses, longevity pay and fees (“per diem” refers to daily expense allowance). Absentee lawmakers would do this by filing a Declination of Remuneration by Elected or Appointed Officer form with the Secretary of State. The declination becomes effective on the date the form is filed with the Secretary of State’s office, explained Comptroller Hagar.
“The good news is that members who aren’t showing up for work can take steps now to prevent themselves from being paid by taxpayers,” Hegar said. “But, if they find themselves too busy in Washington to file the proper paperwork, they can still return their salaries and per diems to the state treasury.”
Some Democratic Party leaders said the fleeing Democrats forfeiting pay is courageous.
"The Democrats in the Texas legislature get paid $7,200 per year. They have spouses, children, and homes they left behind when they came to Washington today. They’re putting their lives on hold to protect the voting rights of every American. They need Congress to do the same," tweeted Julian Castro, Obama's former HUD secretary and mayor of San Antonio.
And then there was Senator Elizabeth Warren:
Liberal politicians are participating in photo ops with the hiding Texas Democrats, like Pennsylvania's Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
"Speaking of Texas, I had the supreme honor and pleasure of @RepDominguez visiting my home today to discuss the situation and courage displayed by #TexasDemocrats who literally fled their state standing up to gross voter suppression," Fetterman tweeted.
The Democrats fled to protest Republican bills designed to tighten voting integrity. Democrats claim the measured proposed suppress the vote. DC politicians have latched onto the protest as a vehicle to ram through the "For the People Act" that liberals argue defends the right to vote. Republicans and conservatives argue that the federal act will nationalize elections and insure nothing but Democrats are elected from now on. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas eloquently explained the Republican position on vote integrity laws — and the Democrats' call for passing the "For the People Act" on the Senate floor this week. Watch:
Regardless of why the Democrats fled to DC, the Texas comptroller issued specific instructions on how the 51 fleeing Democrat Texas House representatives can return their pay.
To return funds, a member would submit the net amount of the payment to the Texas House or Senate Administration committees via personal check, which would then be deposited to the state treasury.
“As a former member of both the House and Senate, I understand policy differences,” Hegar said. “But I also know that, regardless of political persuasion, Texas taxpayers expect all public servants to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Accepting a salary and a per diem while intentionally avoiding legislative duties in violation of House and Senate rules is not responsible stewardship.”