At a committee hearing on March 9, a representative from the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) testified against H.J.R. 56 by Rep. Burt Solomons.  That’s the resolution that would let voters decide in November whether to nullify state laws enacted after January 1, 2012, that would impose mandates on cities or counties without providing state funds to pay for those mandates.

Why would police unions oppose limits on unfunded mandates, especially when such mandates cut into the revenue available to pay police salaries?  The answer is simple:  the state law that pumps up police salaries and benefits the most – collective bargaining – is itself a type of unfunded mandate, especially the provision that bargaining impasses can be sorted out by district judges.  Outlaw unfunded mandates, the police unions must reason, and you outlaw the ability to tie cities’ hands when it comes to expensive employment contracts and retirement benefits.  

City officials opposed to unfunded mandates should contact their legislators in strong support of H.J.R. 56.  On balance, cities can do more – not less – to provide for local law enforcement and other essential services in the absence of costly mandates from state government. 

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Texas Municipal League.

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