The Legislative Budget Board made the emergency funding request in a letter to the governor on Wednesday. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), and Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) serve on the board. Huffman chairs the Senate Finance Committee and Bonnen chairs the House Appropriations Committee.
They all expressed their support for Uvalde and backed the additional funding to harden school buildings across the state. Abbott further contended that the funding was justified by “increasing threats pouring across our southern border” and Patrick expressed a similar position.
$340 million has been provided to the Texas Military Department to fund Operation Lone Star — Abbott’s signature border security effort launched in March 2021 — and another $20 million went to the operation via other state agencies. The cash was taken from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) funding for prisons.
Abbott took the same course of action in June 2021 when he transferred $250 million from TDCJ to start the Texas border wall project. Bonnen later shepherded a bill through the Legislature during the second called session last year to add more than $1 billion in funding for Operation Lone Star and the border wall.
“The action taken today by the Legislative Budget Board provides essential resources to address the crisis at the border and further protect our schools,” Bonnen said on Thursday. “I am thankful for the strong leadership of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, and Speaker Phelan on these critical public safety issues.”
$400 million has been taken from a surplus in the Foundation School Fund to pay for additional school security infrastructure, such as “upgrading doors, windows, fencing, communications, and other safety measures.”
Another $15 million came from the Foundation School Fund to pay for the construction of a new elementary school in Uvalde. Robb Elementary School — where an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24 — is set to be demolished. A tactical team of border patrol agents shot and killed the perpetrator at the scene.
“These funds will continue to support the community of Uvalde in the wake of such a devastating tragedy earlier this year and will help bolster the safety of Texans,” Phelan said in Abbott’s news release. “School security will be a priority for the Texas House during the 88th Legislature, and this additional funding is a meaningful step we can take in the meantime.”
Huffman also said that school safety will be a priority next year and that the federal government has “completely neglected this emergency” related to border security.
In addition, $100 million has been added to the Texas Department of Emergency Management for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds came from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
A copy of the document executing the funding transfer can be found below.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."