On Friday, more than 50 Democratic members of the Texas House filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, asking the Texas Supreme Court to override Republican Governor Greg Abbott's state budget veto.
Abbott blocked a portion of the state budget that funds state legislature after Democrats staged a walk-out during a May legislative session in which the lawmakers were voting on an election reform bill.
"The state is in a constitutional crisis at this moment," said Chad Dunn, an attorney involved with the petition, on Thursday.
The petition, from more than 50 Democratic members of the House, the House Democratic Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, four state employees, and the Texas AFL-CIO, argues that Abbott overstepped his executive authority and asks the court to find his veto unconstitutional.
"Governor Abbott’s veto is an attempt to coerce, and thereby direct, how the Legislature discharges its functions — far exceeding the usual mechanism of the veto as a check on legislative excess," states the petition. "If accepted, it would allow the governor to indirectly commandeer the Legislature by making its very existence contingent on its willingness to enact the governor’s preferred agenda. And it would set the precedent for the governor to do the same to the judiciary."
State Representative Chris Turner told reporters Thursday that roughly 2,000 employees in the state's legislative branch would be affected by the veto.
"This isn't about [lawmakers’] paychecks," Turner said. "What he's doing is hurting our staff and hurting our constituents." According to the Texas Tribune, lawmakers receive "$600 a month in addition to a per diem of $221 every day the Legislature is in session for both regular and special sessions."
Abbott's veto would take effect with the two-year budget scheduled to begin on Sept. 1. On July 8, lawmakers are scheduled to gather for a special legislative session where lawmakers could pass a supplemental budget to restore funding and prevent monetary loss to employees. Abbott would have to sign off if it passes.