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The Brief: July 22, 2015

The Legislative Budget Board wrote Tuesday that some of Gov. Greg Abbott's budget vetoes might not count.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to reporters at  Texas Public Policy Foundation's grand opening of new building on April 21st, 2015

The Big Conversation

The Legislative Budget Board wrote Tuesday that some of Gov. Greg Abbott's budget vetoes might not count.

The vetoes sought to delete certain "riders" attached to the budget, but LBB Director Ursula Parks wrote in a letter to the state comptroller that Abbott's veto proclamation "seeks to go beyond what is authorized in the Texas Constitution [and] is in many respects unprecedented."

The Tribune's Ross Ramsey has more on the letter:

It says, in effect, that the governor vetoed items in the budget that he doesn't have the power to veto, an assertion Parks sourced back to Abbott himself [from his days as attorney general]. In his proposed budget earlier this year, Abbott said that he wanted to expand the governor's line-item veto authority and suggested amending the state constitution to take care of that. The Legislature made no such amendment. 

“The implication in this statement supports the analysis that the Constitution currently provides limited and specific authority in this area; authority that the Proclamation seeks to extend,” Parks wrote.

At issue are budget "riders" — directions to state agencies that are included in the budget but that do not actually make any appropriations. The LBB cited a 1975 opinion from the Texas Supreme Court that said governors have the power to veto appropriations, but not riders.

Abbott's office didn't respond to a request for comment, but his office wrote in an informal memo last month that the vetoes were allowed and that lawmakers can't shield certain budget items from a veto by using "magic words [like] a 'rider, a 'goal, a 'strategy' or anything else."

And to put this story in a broader context, Ramsey takes a look at what the budget fight means for the ongoing struggles over who controls state government.

Trib Must-Reads

Congress to Vote on Sanctuary Cities, by Abby Livingston and Julián Aguilar — Texas Republicans who grouse that the federal government doesn’t enforce immigration laws might soon have Congress to thank for beefing up enforcement at the state and local levels.

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Officials Say Bland Should Not Have Been Arrested, by Terri Langford and Sophia Bollag — Two Texas lawmakers said Sandra Bland should have never been arrested after watching the video of the traffic stop taken from the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper’s car that was shown in a closed door meeting before being released to the public.

Trump's Run Shows Split Between Cruz, Perry, by Patrick Svitek — The two Texans running for president could not be further apart on how they are responding to the cacophonous candidacy of billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Video: DPS Officer Became Enraged Over Cigarette, by Sophia Bollag and Terri Langford — After a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped Sandra Bland's car and approached her, he told her to put out her cigarette and get out of her car. When she asked why, he threatened to "light up" the 28-year-old with his Taser.


Officer Threatened Sandra Bland With Taser, Police Video Shows, The New York Times

Sandra Bland’s mother: ‘I’m ready. … This means war,’ The Dallas Morning News

On traffic stops, experts say comply first, complain later, Houston Chronicle

Questions Surround Billionaire's Role in Perry Campaign, Center for Public Integrity

Rick Perry earns acclaim for toned down tactics, hitting back at Trump, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz highlights plight of gay marriage opponents in new video, MSNBC

Ted Cruz tells Alabama Republicans he's the only 'consistent conservative' in 2016,

Cornyn bill would abolish Dodd-Frank 'too big to fail' provision, The Hill

Gov. Abbott racks up security costs on out-of-state trips, San Antonio Express-News

Despite Improvements, Group Says Texas Is 9th Worst State For Kids, KERA

UT chancellor: letters from VIPs alone don’t get a student admitted, The Dallas Morning News

Armed grass-roots movement aims to protect military recruiting offices, The Dallas Morning News

Bexar County to remove Confederate symbols, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"The greatest risk to this Iranian deal, it is that millions of Americans will be murdered by radical theocratic zealots."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tells reporters the worst-case scenarios of Iran acquiring and using a nuclear weapon following the international agreement this month on Iran's nuclear program

News From Home

•     In this week's edition of the Trib+Health newsletter: Normal sweating varies among people depending on biology and fitness level, a new case is made for statin use and an interview with James Willson of UT Southwestern's Simmons Cancer Center.

Trib Events for the Calendar

    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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