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April 03, 2023
Texas Comptroller Rescinds His Defunding Determination Against Harris County

Houston, Texas – Today Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar rescinded his determination from February that Harris County illegally reduced funding for the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office. The Comptroller’s reversal of his decision comes just weeks after Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee filed a lawsuit against him over this matter.

“I’m glad the Comptroller admitted his error and is no longer holding Harris County’s budget process hostage,” said Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee. “I hope that in the future, we can talk through these types of allegations, as the law requires, before the Comptroller makes a final decision. Texans expect their elected representatives at different levels of government to be able to get on the phone and solve problems, even when they disagree. I urge the Comptroller to talk to us next time instead of forcing us to file a lawsuit.”

Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis stated, “I’m happy this is over. I served in the Texas Legislature with Comptroller Hegar years ago. We talked then and we can talk now. I look forward to a dialogue between the state and the county next time an issue like this arises.”

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia stated, “The Comptroller’s withdrawal reflects what we have known all along: Harris County fully funds law enforcement. I would like to thank County Attorney Christian Menefee, who knew from the beginning we had the facts on our side and the law on our side. Now we can resume our work to serve and protect the people of Harris County.”

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones stated, “This rescission is a win for all. As a proud, native Texan and Harris County resident and Commissioner, I am pleased by and committed to the State and Harris County working together to find solutions that best serve our shared community.”

Comptroller Hegar’s rescission of his determination means the county is free to adopt its tax rate (it is not limited to adopting the no new revenue rate).

The Comptroller had previously determined that Harris County violated Texas Local Government Code Chapter 120. He made that determination by taking the Precinct 5 budget for the County’s 2022 short fiscal year, annualizing it, and then reasoning that because that annualized number was greater than Precinct 5’s budget for fiscal year 2023, the County violated Chapter 120. The County’s lawsuit made clear the Comptroller’s conclusion was legally incorrect, even applying the Comptroller’s own math. Chapter 120 states that if a county’s overall budget decreases from one budget year to the next, a prohibited funding reduction occurs only if the police agency’s share of the county’s overall budget has decreased over that same period. Harris County did not violate that standard because using the Comptroller’s math, Harris County’s overall budget decreases from his annualized version of the 2022 short fiscal year budget to the County’s fiscal year 2023 budget, while Precinct 5’s share of the County’s budget increases.

About the Harris County Attorney's Office

Christian D. Menefee serves as the elected, top civil lawyer for Texas’ largest county. The Harris County Attorney’s Office represents the county in all civil matters including lawsuits. Menefee leads an office of 250 attorneys and staff members. He entered office at 32 years old, making him the youngest person and first African American elected as the Harris County Attorney.