PANEL RECOMMENDS RESTORING PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDS
|Subcommittee on Public Safety Chair Senator John Whitmire of Houston and Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson listen to Legislative Budget Board analysts explain recommendations for restoring funding to probation and substance abuse treatment services.|
(AUSTIN) — A Senate subcommittee charged with evaluating funds dealing with prisons and the Department of Public Safety recommended increasing appropriations by almost $300 million Monday. These recommendations would restore allocations to current budget levels for many programs. Current funding in the Senate's version of the budget for public safety agencies is about $9 billion, which is more than a billion dollars less than the last budget.
The subcommittee recommendations would put more money into probation and drug treatment programs and would move $100 million from the state's transportation fund, called Fund Six, to Department of Public Safety. Fund Six diversions have been controversial in the past, as critics say that reducing money marked for highway construction and maintenance leaves the state relying on private entities to build toll roads. Subcommittee Chair Senator John Whitmire said using Fund Six money for highway enforcement is within the constitutional intent of the fund. "I'm very committed to the needs of DPS," he said. "We ask them to do more and more along the border, in particular, and along our highways. Fund Six does allow you to spend highway funds if the security and enforcement is related to our safe highways, so we went with the agency and identified easily a hundred million of their request which could be directly related to safe highways."
The subcommittee will present its recommendations to the full Finance Committee later this week.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, March 29 at 11 a.m.