In a split vote Feb. 16, Harris County commissioners decided to launch a lawsuit against the state comptroller in response to allegations that the county has defunded law enforcement.

On Feb. 10, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a statement that his office had reviewed Harris County’s 2023 fiscal year adopted budget and found “evidence of a reduction of funding for a law enforcement agency.” The review occurred in December after the office received a complaint from Constable Ted Heap of Harris County Constable Office Precinct 5.

On Feb. 16, Commissioners Court voted 4-1—with Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, the court’s only Republican, dissenting—to allow the County Attorney’s Office to file a lawsuit against Hagar. During a Feb. 16 press conference, County Attorney Christian Menefee attributed Hagar’s allegations of defunding law enforcement to “incorrect math” made for “political reasons or whatever it may be.”

“The reality is Harris County has increased the funding for law enforcement every year since I've been here ... and we've done that despite the state's best efforts to keep us from increasing law enforcement funding,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said Feb. 16.

In a Feb. 16 response to Harris County’s decision to file a lawsuit against Hegar, his office released a statement calling the legal action “frivolous.”

“Law enforcement has been consistently available and open to finding a local solution that is mutually acceptable to all parties. Instead, [Hidalgo] and the Harris County commissioners would prefer to waste taxpayer resources,” Hegar said via the statement.

To read more about Commissioner’s Court’s discussions in October to pass the 2023 budget and tax rates, click here.