Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo calls defunding police allegations 'false claims', says math is wrong

Courtney Fischer Image
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Judge Hidalgo calls defunding police allegations 'false claims'
The state comptroller claims Harris County is trying to defund the police. County Judge Lina Hidalgo says his math is wrong -- and law enforcement funding has actually been increased by $175 million.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The State Comptroller is once again threatening budget sanctions against Harris County.

Glenn Hegar, who has gained a lot of attention while working in a typically low-profile office, is accusing county officials of trying to defund the police -- which is illegal under a relatively-new state law.

At a press conference Thursday morning, county officials responded to those allegations.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee say Hegar's math is just plain wrong and that this is all just a political stunt. They said they're sick of it.

SEE ALSO: Is Harris County defunding police in proposed 2023 budget?

Hegar put out a press release saying Harris County cut the budget for law enforcement -- specifically pointing out a complaint from Harris County Pct. 5 Constable Ted Heap that claims their budget was cut by more than $2 million this year.

Hidalgo said the claim is not correct and Hegar did the math wrong. She said these are "unfounded claims" and -- alongside Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Menefee -- she plans to pursue legal action against Hegar.

Hidalgo says in reality -- the county actually increased law enforcement funding.

"Our latest budget has $1.4 billion toward crime, and for those who might say they would do more, that is 2/3 of the county budget going toward justice and going toward safety," Hidalgo said. "That is an increase over the last three and half years of $175 million when it comes to criminal justice and crime."

RELATED: Experts say 'defund the police' may be used as political pawn, but are budgets actually being cut?

She went on to say the allegations are part of a bigger issue: "patterns of attack from the state" on democracy. She said this while reacting to Mattress Mack's new lawsuit against the Harris County Election Administration's Office.

The lawsuit filed by furniture store owner and philanthropist Jim McIngvale, known as Mattress Mack, claims county election officials area withholding documents that will shed light on problems that came up during the 2022 November election.

"He's trying to do the same thing again. He's making false claims to spin us around, to weave a false narrative. And, like last year, we will show that Comptroller Hegar and his allies seem to be struggling with basic accounting, with basic math," Hidalgo said. "It's almost comical. In Harris County, we're not only enduring the pillow guy, but we have to deal with the mattress guy, too."

At the commissioners court meeting Thursday, officials plan to discuss how they will pursue legal action against the state comptroller.

ABC13 will be following what happens throughout the afternoon.

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READ MORE: Harris County denies Mattress Mack's claims that admin lacks transparency regarding 2022 election