Securing the Mexican border is supposed to be the federal government’s job. But Texas governors and Republican lawmakers have long complained Washington wasn’t doing enough. To fill the gap, the Legislature approved $800 million last session, for the two-year budget cycle ending in August. DPS was expected to ask for even more this time. Then Donald Trump was elected.
“The idea [that] we’re going to put $1 billion into it, all that’s gone. That’s not going to occur,” says State Sen. Paul Bettencourt of West Harris County. Bettencourt is the most recent addition to the Texas Senate Finance Committee.
“I think a more realistic approach is look at what the current levels are, take out the one-time expenditures, and then go lobby the Trump Administration to step up to the plate,” Bettencourt says.
Texas’ border security surge has been controversial. DPS officers deployed to the Rio Grande Valley aren’t available for highway safety or emergency management in other areas of the state. And the impact of the expenditures is unclear. Even before Trump took office, the federal government spent roughly $19 billion per year on border security, nearly 50 times what Texas is spending now.
Still, Bettencourt says the Legislature will wait to see what more Trump will do on border security before they cut their own spending.