After the Uvalde shooting, Patrick called for the state to finance the purchase of bulletproof shields for law enforcement across the state — one to be stored in every patrol vehicle.
“If every member of law enforcement across the state, approximately 80,000 officers, had a bulletproof shield in their vehicle, their ability to respond to an active shooter situation would be greatly enhanced,” Patrick said in his announcement.
“I am asking the Speaker of the House to join the Senate members of the Legislative Budget Board and me next week in a budget execution letter to move $50 million to either the Governor’s Office or Department of Public Safety (DPS) to begin buying these bulletproof shields as soon as possible so every member of school law enforcement has one.”
Patrick said something similar has been done before, pointing to the $25 million purchase of bulletproof vests in 2016 after the Dallas shooting that left six police officers dead.
But Patrick’s appeal for immediate approval fell on deaf ears with Phelan, who said in a public statement, “While discussions are already underway in the Texas House about how to respond to the school shooting in Uvalde, there are also ongoing investigations into the details of this horrific event — and we will be utilizing those findings to determine how state resources should be allocated if we are to prevent another tragedy like this from occurring.”
He added that bulletproof shields are “likely to be a part of that solution,” but the lower chamber will focus on measures to “harden” schools and increase the ranks of school officers.
“All Texans want to ensure that our students, teachers, and schools are safe,” Phelan stated. “The lieutenant governor and I are in agreement that this must be the case before the next school year begins this fall.”
The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) — a “permanent joint committee of the Texas Legislature that develops budget and policy recommendations” led by the lieutenant governor and speaker — has the authority to redirect appropriated funding in the budget from one place to another. Chapter 317 of the Government Code allows the LBB to transfer money from one state agency to another “after finding that an emergency exists.”
Both Patrick and Phelan have convened special committees to investigate the Uvalde shooting and evaluate policy responses, at the request of Governor Greg Abbott.
No matter what is done in the interim, the issue will undoubtedly be among the list of top priorities on the legislature’s plate when it reconvenes in 2023.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include mention of state code’s appropriations transfer process.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.