A state bill that would punish "sanctuary cities" in Texas could cost El Paso County some $14 million if it becomes law -- potentially bad news for taxpayers, according to officials there.
County commissioners explained a loss in state funding could mean a four-cent increase in the county property tax, about nine percent. This comes on the heels of President Trump’s executive order threatening to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities.
The state funds that could be cut support veterans assistance, Meals on Wheels, housing allowance for the homeless, and victims of abuse, county Commissioner Andrew Haggerty said. He hopes the county will make policy changes to keep the funding.
“The stuff that we’re set to lose is the stuff that help the people who need it the most,” said Haggerty.
The bill has not yet passed in the Republican-controlled House, but that may be a priority. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have publicly supported its passage on a national stage, and Abbott called the bill an emergency item.
The law in essence makes sanctuary cities illegal in the state, by prohibiting law enforcement agencies, counties or cities to adopt or enforce policies that prohibit or discourage the enforcement of immigration laws.
Punishments for counties and cities may include the loss of state grant funds. The city of El Paso could lose $130,000 yearly, according to KFOX.
El Paso Chief Performance Officer Nancy Bartlett said the city runs on a tight budget and would likely need to raise taxes or cut something if the state slashes funding.
“That literally means something doesn’t get funded,” Bartlett told KFOX. “We only have X amount of dollars. People think about magic money and we don’t have it. We wish that we did.”
The funding they could lose goes towards domestic violence courts and drug rehab programs, according to KFOX.