“It’s certainly a strain… It’s not our mission.”
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – “Last session we talked over and over about border security being the job of the federal government. Unfortunately, the state has had to step in.
“My hope is that over the course of the next few months, we can start to see some action on the part of the federal government so that we can pull back some of our state resources,” said Texas Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson at a hearing earlier this week addressing the Texas Department of Public Safety’s budget.
Nelson’s comments put her in line with House leaders, who have already expressed a desire to pull back on the state’s first-of-its-kind border security campaign, which costs $800 million in the current two-year budget, if the feds boost their efforts.
Doing so would give some much needed wiggle room to lawmakers as they craft the 2018-19 budget, which many budget watchers is likely to include cuts for many state agencies due to slower economic growth in state revenue caused by lower oil and gas prices, and budgetary constraints from decisions made in recent legislative sessions.
Senate Bill 1, the draft 2018-19 budget Nelson unveiled last month, renews the $800 million expenditure for border security, a vast majority of which goes to DPS. The House plan from Speaker Joe Straus (left,) sets aside $663 million for border security. Last year, DPS requested more than $1 billion to continue the program.
DPS Director Steve McCraw said that, based on a recent meeting with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, he expects Border Patrol to add 5,000 agents to the southern border. McCraw also said it will take time.
“I’ve got no doubt that Kelly is committed to doing that. I’ve never seen the morale higher within Border Patrol.
“I was somewhat disappointed, because recognizing I had visions of sooner than later, it’s going to be later, and Secretary Kelly was very candid about that,” said McCraw (right).
“It’s certainly a strain on the agency. It’s not our mission,” said McCraw.