87th LegislatureState HouseSpeaker Phelan Backs $50 Million Bulletproof Shields Expense Among Other Proposals

The Texas legislature is now primed to approve over $150 million in funding for a variety of school shooting-related measures before students return in the fall.
June 13, 2022
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In laying out his other school safety priorities on Monday, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) backed Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s call to spend $50 million on bulletproof shields. He also proposed more than $100 million in other expenditures to pair with the disbursement of shields.

“Your recommendation to dedicate $50 million toward outfitting local school law enforcement with bulletproof shields is a worthwhile goal…and you have my full support in that endeavor,” Phelan said in a letter to the lieutenant governor.

Last week, Patrick called for the immediate expenditure by moving money from one agency to another through the Legislative Budget Board. The immediacy was necessary, Patrick said, to ensure that as many shields as possible could be distributed to Texas law enforcement before school resumes in the fall. 

At first, Phelan pumped the brakes on Patrick’s call for immediate action, but has now backed the proposal.

In addition to the shields, Phelan said, “I also believe our state is best served by a multi-faceted response [to the Uvalde shooting] — one that includes strategies to improve mental health outcomes and strengthen school security for students and teachers.”

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Those other items Phelan highlighted in his letter are:

  • $37.5 million to expand telemedicine access for children
  • $30 million to increase mental health bed capacity across the state
  • $18.7 million to facilitate the purchase of silent panic alert technology by school districts
  • $10.5 million to provide mental health intervention services from regional crisis response teams
  • $7 million to fund Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training for all cadets
  • $7 million to bolster funding for the Texas School Safety Center
  • $4.03 million to create seven Multisystemic Therapy teams this year, with a goal to eventually reach 140 teams
  • $950,000 to establish two additional psychosis treatment teams, one specifically for San Antonio to service Uvalde

Phelan added that funding for all of this “can and should be made available for the items detailed above…by way of budget execution.”

He recommended pulling money from the Foundation School Program, the state’s primary pot of money financing public schools in Texas. This is the recapture fund — colloquially called “Robinhood” — from which money is taken from property-rich districts and disbursed to poorer ones.

“The coming year will bring many debates and policy discussions about how our state approaches the issues of school safety, mental health, police training, firearm safety, and more,” Phelan said.

Governor Greg Abbott applauded the package, saying, “This is a great start to delivering not only on the needs of the Uvalde community, but for schools and communities across Texas.”

In a response, Patrick approved six of Phelan’s eight proposals, and called for $5 million to be set aside for fusion center expansion and an indeterminate amount for auto locking doors with alarms.

Last week, hearings began in the House’s special committee investigating the Uvalde shooting. On Thursday and Friday this week, the committee will hold hearings in Uvalde according to Chairman Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock).

Three weeks ago, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and killed 19 children and two teachers.

Update: This article has been updated to include a response from Patrick.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is 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.