AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas lawmakers in both the Senate and House voted last week to overhaul Child Protective Services in Texas. Not one lawmaker voted against the bills in either chamber.
“I’m honored to have that level of support,” said Senator Charles Schwertner. The Georgetown Republican authored Senate Bill 11. “It speaks to it being a bill that affects all Texas,” Schwertner added. “It’s not a partisan bill.”
The votes indicate all lawmakers agree Child Protective Services needs more resources and more money. But lawmakers don’t agree on how to pay for the plan. “Well, we need to find the money,” Schwertner told KXAN anchor Robert Hadlock on Sunday’s State of Texas program.
Some lawmakers want to tap the state’s Rainy Day Fund. House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Zerwas filed a supplemental appropriations bill to use $1.4 billion from the fund. “This bill will pay for improvements that have already begun at Child Protective Services,” Zerwas said in a statement. His bill provides funding to hire staff and pay raises approved last year by state leaders.
Senator Schwertner does not want to tap the Rainy Day Fund. “I think we can find it in existing revenue,” he said. “It’s a tight budgetary cycle but we need to prioritize where we spend our money and certainly the care of our children that need the assistance and protection from abuse and neglect and exploitation.”
Money is not the only issue when resolving the system as a whole. Part of Schwertner’s bill hands some state responsibilities to non-profits. “It allows for local nonprofits with a historical mission and child welfare, or local governmental entities such as county government for instance to set up a system that is right for the children of that region,” Schwertner explained. “We need to have the right strategies that engage our faith-based and not-for-profit community to assist us in the care of the children of Texas.”
This is not just the responsibility of government. It’s a responsibility of us all.”