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A Texas lawmaker is asking donors to pay his legislative staff after Gov. Greg Abbott defunded the entire Legislature

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Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas prepares to deliver his State of the State speech on February 1. Bob Daemmrich/Pool Photo via AP
  • A Texas state representative is asking campaign donors to help pay his legislative staffers.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott defunded the Legislature after Democrats fled to protest restrictive voting bills.

  • Legislators' pay is enshrined in the constitution. Staffers are set to lose their pay in September.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A Republican state legislator in Texas asked his donor base to help pay his legislative staffers and other personnel after Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the Legislature's pay in the biennial budget passed in June.

Rep. Dan Huberty said in a letter to donors that "more than 2100 employees will no longer receive a paycheck" starting in September and that donations would help compensate them "as they will continue to do their jobs."

The Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek posted the letter on Twitter on Monday.

While Abbott's veto applies to the entire Legislature, lawmakers' pay is enshrined in the state constitution, which says that "Members of the Legislature shall receive from the Public Treasury a salary of Six Hundred Dollars per Month."

Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives staged a walkout in May to prevent the passage of restrictive voting bills. Soon after, Abbott tweeted that he would veto the legislative branch's funding. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," he said.

The state constitution also dictates the legislators must receive pay for every day they serve when called for a special session, so they would still likely get paid regardless of the state budget. The salaries of legislative staffers, bill drafters, and administrative personnel are not included in the constitution and therefore are subject to Abbott's veto.

The new budget does not go into effect until September 1, leaving less than a month to again fund the Legislature. But the budget cannot be amended until enough Democratic representatives return to restore a quorum - in July, they traveled to Washington, DC, to persuade Congress to institute voting regulations and to prevent the state Legislature from passing restrictive voting bills.

Republicans and Democrats alike have spoken out against the governor's decision to defund the Legislature. Dade Phelan, the Republican speaker of the House, told the Texas Tribune in June that he was most worried about staff pay.

"I understand the frustration the governor has in [lawmakers] not passing those emergency items - they were priorities of the governor, they were priorities of mine, priorities of many members of the Legislature," Phelan said. "My only concern is how it impacts staff, especially those who live here in Austin, which is not an inexpensive place to live and raise your family and children."

Texas Democrats in June petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn Abbott's decision, alleging that it was unconstitutional for multiple reasons.

Huberty's campaign and legislative offices didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

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