By Ryan Poppe, Texas Public Radio
As part of the state’s ongoing border security operations, the Department of Public Safety plans to ask the legislature in 2017 for $1 billion. It is a budget request that has some South Texas lawmakers still asking if the state’s efforts are effective and where is the money being spent?
The package calls for $200-million more than what the legislature budgeted in 2015, making their 2017 request the largest amount of money ever to be requested for the state’s ongoing efforts to secure the Texas-Mexico border.
The large spending package has lawmakers like state Sen. Carlos Uresti, a democrat from San Antonio who sits on both the senate’s finance committee and the joint border security committee questioning what happened to the $800 million appropriated in 2015.
“Because you know that money hasn’t even been spent and I think they are struggling to spend that money”, Uresti explains.
DPS officials says part of that money goes to pay for the equipment the agency has yet to purchase and the salaries of the 500 state troopers the state wants to station along border, but has yet to hire.
State Rep. Larry Gonzalez, a Republican from Round Rock and member of the House’s Budget Committee believes analysis of how DPS is spending this state money is coming soon.
“The data is there, we just have to sit down, all of us as a body and figure out. We have ask ourselves, what we did?, is it working?, and how do we proceed?” Gonzalez says.
The governor’s office in July called for a 4-percent cut for most state agencies, but will not include cutting the state’s budget for border security.