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Governor Greg Abbott Vetoes Environmental Subsidies

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Monday, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 1, the state’s biennial budget, into law. But the governor of Texas has the authority to veto parts of the budget that he doesn’t like, without jeopardizing the entire law.

In a statement, which you can read here, Abbott cited $120 million dollars in cuts-by-veto.

Of the cuts, $92,936,610 were from environmental programs aimed at reducing pollution.

He vetoed Article VI, Section 7, which allocated $6,000,500 over the two-year budget period for “Air Quality Planning” in certain cities. The activities funded through the program included, “identifying, inventorying, and monitoring of pollution levels; and the identification, quantification, implementation of appropriate locally enforceable pollution reduction controls.”

In his veto statement, Abbott identified that the money was specifically going to fund such things as bicycle use programs and carpool awareness. He argued the program can be funded at the local level rather than by the state.

The money was helping fund efforts by San Antonio and others to come into compliance with federal EPA pollution reduction standards enacted under President Obama, which President Trump’s administration has delayed enforcement of.

These cities will either have to scrap the program – which Abbott called “business-stifling” – or come up with the money locally.

Abbott also defunded Section 24, the $86,936,110 biennial LIRAP (Low-Income Repair Assistance Program). The program was based on income levels and geographic location and granted Texans up to $600 to repair a vehicle, or up to $3,500 to assist in buying a new one.

The governor compared LIRAP to President Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” program, which gave tax dollars to Americans to unload their old gas-guzzlers and buy newer, more environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Abbott argued the LIRAP program has done little to impact pollution levels and that the funds allocated last cycle have still not been entirely spent.

Environmental groups were outraged. Brian Zabcik at EnvironmentTexas called the vetoes “Penny wise and pound foolish.”

A USAToday headline read “Abbott’s vetoes hurt poor people and the environment.” A headline in Austin-Chronicle declared: “Abbott Against the Environment”

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