Travis County commissioner discuss funding cut threat

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt met with commissioners Tuesday, trying to piece together a plan, if Governor Greg Abbott indeed does cut $1.8 million in funding for criminal justice.

“We are very concerned about cuts in state funding because we are doing the state's work. We operate the courts on behalf of the state. So when the state threatens to remove our funding, they're actually removing funding from their own program,” said Eckhardt.

Earlier in January, new sheriff, Sally Hernandez released a new immigration policy.

It requires a deputy to comply with ICE in regards to jail holds, only if the person in question has a first degree murder, aggravated sex assault, continuous smuggling charge, or if there's a federal warrant. Deputies do not have to discuss immigration status. In response, Governor Abbott threatened to cut funding from Travis County February 1, if the policy doesn't change.

“Sheriff Hernandez's policy is absolutely within the law of the land, both the state and federal policy. She is acting within her discretion,” said Eckhardt.

“While we do respect her office, we disagree vehemently with her policy. I don't think law enforcement can pick and choose which laws they enforce,” said State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, (R) Austin.

Buckingham hopes commissioners can comply with the governor's request.

“We think this is a public safety issue not a political issue, and her policy would make her ineligible for the grants,” said Buckingham.

Commissioners received legal briefing on their options and possible ramifications to state programs. Eckhardt says, they will continue to negotiate with the governor's office.

“It's like being angry at your right hand,”  said Eckhardt, referring to the situation with the disagreement with the governor.

If these funding cuts do happen, Eckhardt says it will have ramifications for veterans courts, cps dockets, juvenile probation services, and more.

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