The Texas Border Coalition has welcomed House Speaker Joe Straus’ decision to study how $800 million in state funds provided for border security is being spent and if it is being used wisely.
The Texas Border Coalition is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville.
The group works closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and border security, workforce development, economic development and health care.
Straus announced Wednesday that the House Committee on Appropriations has been given this interim charge: “Evaluate the effectiveness of the Department of Public Safety’s use of funds appropriated during the 84th legislative session for border security operations. Examine existing data and reporting on border security metrics, and recommend improvements to ensure the availability of accurate information in considering sustaining or increasing border security funds.”
Although a large majority of House members voted to provide $800 million for border security there has been a vocal minority who have questioned why the bulk of the funds have gone to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Monica Weisberg-Stewart, chair of the TBC’s immigration and border security committee, said: “I am pleased with Speaker Straus’ interim charge on border security spending. I think with every agency we need to look at the bottom line and see the return on investment we are getting. Eight hundred million dollars is a large amount of money. There can be a lot of wasteful spending with that. As a person living in Texas I am always very concerned about efficiency and trying not to lose money.”
Weisberg-Stewart said she hopes the House Committee on Appropriations will look specifically at the return the State of Texas is getting by allocating the lion’s share of the $800 million to DPS. “DPS can give out a lot of tickets. They can do a lot of things. The question is are they actually putting a dent in border security?”
Weisberg-Stewart is a business owner who lives in McAllen. She said some border communities initially welcomed the decision to have more DPS troopers assigned to the border because it would mean higher occupancy rates in local hotels. However, she said some border communities, such as Starr County, are seeing the negative side to DPS’ presence.