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For 2nd time, 2 Harris County commissioners skip meeting to prevent vote on new budget, tax rate

It's the second time Republican commissioners Tom Ramsey and Jack Cagle skipped a meeting in order to prevent a vote on the new proposed budget from taking place.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Two members of Harris County Commissioners Court skipped a meeting Tuesday at which a vote was supposed to take place on a new budget and tax rate.

It's the second time the Republican commissioners -- Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle -- skipped a meeting in order to prevent a vote from taking place. Without them present, there weren't enough commissioners to legally move forward. Four of the five commissioners must be present to meet quorum.

RELATED: Republican commissioners skip meeting in order to block vote on Harris County budget

The new budget has caused a divide among commissioners.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said hiring freezes and fewer hospital services could happen soon. She said the proposed budget includes the largest tax rate cut

Cagle and Ramsey said residents’ tax bills will go up because appraisals are higher.

Hidalgo invited both Cagle and Ramsey to show up later Tuesday, but it's unclear if they have intentions to do so.

The first time they skipped the meeting to block the vote was two weeks ago. At the time of the first scheduled vote, Ramsey said in part, "I’m not against spending money. I’m for using it properly, not wasting it."

The actions of Cagle and Ramsey mean that Harris County will have the same budget this year as it did last year. Hidalgo said the budget will be about $100 million less than what the proposed budget included. She said that will have an effect on services in the county.

RELATED: Harris County commissioners remain at odds over budget

"Law enforcement positions unfilled. Won’t be able to open new Harris Health facility ... flood control," Hidalgo said during a news conference on Monday.

Cagle and Ramsey accused Hidalgo of using scare tactics and telling the public false information about Harris County hospitals' financial situation.

In a statement to KHOU 11 News, Cagle said: "Much as she has done during the recent COVID pandemic, Judge Hidalgo continues to employ scare tactics about health care as a political tool. Now, in the middle of her re-election campaign, she is again trying to frighten people with irresponsible – and false – predictions about county health care when she well knows that the Harris County Hospital District is sitting on a reserve fund of more than $1.4 billion."

The new budget kicks in Saturday but commissioners have until Oct. 28 to adopt a new tax rate.

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