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Texas Board Approves More than $874.6 Million for Public Safety Initiatives

'The State of Texas is working around the clock to support critical public safety efforts...'

(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) Texas’ legislative budget board has approved the allocation of $874.6 million for public safety initiatives, including school safety measures and additional funding for border security.

The legislative board sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday stating it had approved the transfer of funds under the General Appropriations Act.

The board consists of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Joan Huffman and House Appropriations Chair Dr. Greg Bonnen.

A total of $874.6 million will be transferred to state agencies and programs, according to the letter, broken down into three key areas: school safety, border security and COVID-19 response expenses.

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The largest amount, $415 million, comes through appropriations made to the Texas Education Agency for use during the fiscal year 2023.

It includes $400 million to assist school districts with replacing or upgrading doors, windows, fencing, communications and other safety measures and $15 million to construct a new elementary school in Uvalde.

The next largest amount is being allocated through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice of $359,673,191 to fund Operation Lone Star border security activities.

This includes $339 million to the Texas Military Department and $20.6 million to state agencies providing border security assistance.

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The remainder, $100 million, is being allocated through the Texas Division of Emergency Management for COVID-19 response expenses.

“The State of Texas is working around the clock to support critical public safety efforts, including protecting communities across the state from the increasing threats pouring across our southern border, as well as enhancing the security of Texas schools,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.

“Texas continues providing support to the Uvalde community in the aftermath of tragedy as they rebuild … [and] will continue boosting public safety statewide and supporting Uvalde in their efforts to heal and move forward.”

Patrick, who heads the state senate, said “securing the safety of our children and our southern border are issues of paramount importance” and puts the legislature in “a strong position to confront these issues head-on during the upcoming legislative session.”

Phelan said the state legislature would be prioritizing school security bills next year, including allocating even more school safety funding.

“As the crisis at our border continues, it is critical that the legislature continues to fund Operation Lone Star as the flow of illegal immigrants, weapons and drugs has hit unprecedented levels,” Huffman said.

“Because the federal government has completely neglected this emergency, imagine how unsafe communities across the country would be had Texas not stepped up to provide its full support.”

She added that it was the state’s “duty to continue to support the Uvalde community,” which included providing funds to build a new school, and ensuring other districts have the funds to improve their campus security.

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