AUSTIN (KXAN) — Stories about people crossing the border between Texas and Mexico may have faded from the headlines, but some state officials want a surge to stay in effect for almost another year. The operation is meant to protect you but will also cost you more money. As Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s term ends in two months, he said one of his final priorities will be making sure the surge continues through at least August.
“I intend to remind our legislators that, ‘Just look what happens when we tell the other side — the bad guys — when we’re going to withdraw,’” Dewhurst told KXAN. “If we withdraw too quickly from the border, all the good we’ve done — the almost-billion dollars of Texas money we spent — is all wasted.”
Dewhurst has proposed using “state budget execution,” meaning officials would shift portions of the current budget to spend on something else — in this case, the border surge. By the state’s latest estimate, that could mean spending another $150 million.
“I met with Gov. (Rick) Perry’s staff to talk about continuing the surge through this fiscal year, as long as we can under statute,” he said. “And I’m talking with our legislators to keep continuing our surge, to show the federal government we’re not going away to shut down illegal immigration, drug trafficking, human trafficking.”
The Texas Legislative Budget Board previously estimated the surge effort at the border would cost the state $17 to $18 million per month. For now, money is mostly coming from $38 million from an Emergency Radio Infrastructure Fund.
“Given just what we think is budgeted per month, we’ll get through the end of October, maybe November a bit,” said Maj. Gen. John Nichols, adjutant general of Texas, said in August.
The budget board highlighted had estimated a $12 million cost each month for National Guard deployment. A majority of that would pay for troops and lodging. The estimated cost for the efforts on the border by the Texas Department of Public Safety was $1.3 million each week. Most of that money has been for overtime.
“I believe that (the governor is) supportive of what I’m proposing,” said Dewhurst. “I spoke to Speaker (Joe) Straus… and we’re going to meet on this shortly.”
The Governor’s office confirmed Wednesday they support the plan.
“Yes, we have discussed it with the lieutenant governor, and the governor supports extending funding through Aug. 31,” Lucy Nashed, Perry’s spokesperson said, “We are working with the speaker and lieutenant governor’s offices on what budget execution might look like.”
The Legislative Budget Board – which would consider the funding – meets Dec. 1.