Texas voting standoff jeopardizes pay for up to 2K workers

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Donovon Rodriguez, main of unit for Texas authorities Rep. Ray Lopez, walks astir the Texas capitol with his wife, Jenny Tavarez, and daughter, Evelyn Belle Rodriguez, for whom helium is the sole provider, Monday, July 26, 2021 successful Austin, Texas. Rodriguez could suffer his occupation by Sept. 1, if legislative fund backing is not restored. Texas. (AP Photo/Acacia Coronado)

AUSTIN, Texas – Donovon Rodriguez pursued a vocation with the authorities of Texas 7 years agone due to the fact that helium viewed the enactment arsenic nationalist work and a dependable income to supply for his family. But lately, his authorities occupation hasn't looked truthful stable.

Rodriguez, the main of unit for a Democratic authorities representative, is 1 of adjacent to 2,000 legislative workers who hazard going unpaid aft Republican Gov. Greg Abbott slashed their salaries from the authorities fund arsenic punishment aft Democratic lawmakers walked retired successful May to artifact restrictions connected voting.

Paychecks could beryllium restored during an ongoing peculiar legislative session. That’s presently astatine a standstill aft galore of the aforesaid 50 Democrats ratcheted up their governmental maneuver and fled the authorities to support thwarting the GOP's plans for reducing polling hours and ballot entree successful Texas' already strict voting laws.

The vicious rhythm means employees who instrumentality calls and emails from constituents, assistance probe and constitute bills and different support a legislative league moving won’t beryllium moving erstwhile the caller fund starts Sept. 1. Rodriguez and others accidental it feels similar their livelihoods are collateral harm successful the nation’s astir disposable standoff implicit voting rights.


“There is ever idiosyncratic who feels near out, who feels betrayed, by the politician erstwhile helium chooses to veto legislation,” Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, it truly hits location this time.”

Democratic lawmakers sued Abbott implicit the June enactment point veto of much than $400 cardinal successful wage funds, claiming the enactment was unconstitutional. Rodriguez, who makes $73,000 annually, was named successful the suit, which is pending earlier the Texas Supreme Court. Abbott's bureau declined remark but antecedently said the Texas Constitution grants the politician the “power to disapprove immoderate bill.”

It's not wide erstwhile the tribunal mightiness marque a decision, keeping the authorities employees successful limbo.

Abbott’s determination is unprecedented, astatine slightest successful caller Texas history, and sparks an antithetic law statement astir separation of powers, according to Joshua Blank, manager of probe for the non-partisan Texas Politics Project astatine the University of Texas astatine Austin.


“It is simply a bedrock rule of some the United States constitution and astir authorities governments that governmental powerfulness is divided betwixt executive, legislative and judicial branches and it is precise uncommon to spot specified unfastened struggle astir the cognition of 1 subdivision oregon the other,” Blank said.

Lawmaker salaries — astir $600 a period for the legislators who conscionable each 2 years, usually for 5 months — are protected by the Texas Constitution, Blank said, and truthful tin lone beryllium changed with a law amendment.

Most Texas lawmakers person different jobs wherever they marque their existent money. But for overmuch of their staff, a authorities wage is however they wage their bills.

Some members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus person pledged to screen their staffers' salaries themselves. And portion Republicans person been little vocal arsenic a radical astir their unit salaries, the imaginable pinch has not gone unnoticed.

"The implications to the operations of the House are significant,” Republican Rep. William Metcalf, who chairs the Committee connected House Administration, said successful a memo this week.


Beyond payroll, the memo said, Abbott's veto means unit volition beryllium liable for afloat backing their ain wellness insurance. Leases and telephone lines for lawmakers' territory offices volition beryllium canceled. And cleaning and disinfection services for the House Chamber volition halt arsenic COVID-19 corruption and infirmary rates are rising again successful Texas and overmuch of the U.S.

For now, Rodriguez volition transportation on. On a caller workday, his woman and 15-moth-old girl joined him connected the 70-mile travel from their location successful San Antonio to his bureau astatine the Capitol successful Austin. At 1 constituent helium held the toddler connected 1 broadside and a telephone connected the other, speaking softly connected a enactment telephone arsenic his woman acceptable up a crib. He likes to support them adjacent — a household portion that appreciates the worth of hard enactment and nationalist service.

Rodriguez's boss, Rep. Ray Lopez, is 1 of the Democrats presently successful Washington seeking enactment from Congress and President Joe Biden to instrumentality national enactment to artifact voting restrictions, with Abbott pledging to proceed scheduling peculiar sessions until his docket is approved. But Congress acting is looking little likely, and Abbott is betting that Democrats won't beryllium capable to tally for overmuch longer.


The politician is intelligibly to blasted for the fund chopped successful Rodriguez's view, and helium said helium believes successful the principles that drove the Democrats to flee. But helium wishes helium and others similar him had not been caught successful the governmental crossfire.

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old said his household is refinancing their vehicle, considering a determination to less-expensive housing, canceling subscriptions and buying babe supplies successful bulk selling arsenic they hole for the coming months.

“I deliberation the members are doing the close happening to adhd unit successful the mode that they can,” Rodriguez said. “But I americium precise uncertain for what is going to happen, it decidedly causes immoderate discomfort for my household to not beryllium definite astir our future.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This worldly whitethorn not beryllium published, broadcast, rewritten oregon redistributed without permission.

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