Announcing his bid for lieutenant governor June 27, state Sen. Dan Patrick said Texas shouldn’t shortchange security on the U.S.-Mexico border, which he described as a federal responsibility but Texas’ problem.
The Houston Republican said in a video that he voted against the latest state budget, which, “despite increasing nearly 9 percent, actually cut border security and funding to fight criminal gangs.”
Not quite, it turns out.
Since 2005, Gov. Rick Perry has urged state supplementation of federal border operations. According to an April issue brief from the Legislative Budget Board staff, federal grants helped launch state efforts in 2005-2007 with $124 million in state aid supporting the cause from 2008-09 through 2012-13.
The state created centers in Austin and the border area to gather intelligence, built a Laredo crime lab and used software to map criminal activities in real time, the brief said, and spending also enabled purchases of aircraft and patrol boats and vehicles.
State border operations are coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security within the Department of Public Safety, the brief said.
Patrick spokesman Logan Spence told us by email that Patrick relied on DPS spending figures from three categories in the budget: “organized crime,” “border security” and “local border security.”
Summaries from 2011 and this year suggest a $17.4 million drop, to $117.2 million, in “organized crime” spending and a $6.1 million decrease, to $82.9 million, in “border security” plus “local border security.”
Spence also sent 2011 and 2013 budget board summaries that wrapped in funding for border operations involving Texas Parks and Wildlife and “trusteed programs” in the governor’s office. The summaries indicate border security spending in those programs plus the DPS “border/”local border” categories dropped $128.1 million to $94.1 million from 2012-13 to 2014-15.
But this year’s summary also states “additional funding is provided” to the DPS for border security—and a chief budget-writer and a spokesman for the budget board staff told us that counting this unspecified spending, the new budget allocates more than $100 million to border security not spelled out in the estimates fueling Patrick’s claim.
Budget board staff spokesman John Barton told us by telephone that on July 15 its experts tabulated $331.2 million in border security funding in DPS’ budget—$118.3 million over the agency’s revised 2012-13 border security budget total of $212.9 million. DPS spokesman Tom Vinger agreed those amounts were budgeted for the agency.
Gary Scharrer, spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, asserted by email that, as a committee member, Patrick would have known the wider scope of spending and could have requested full numbers before he made his claim.
Scharrer said that according to Senate Finance Committee staff, budgeted border operations spending across all agencies in 2014-15 is $343.2 million, up $121.6 million from the previous budget.
Barton told us the summary of the DPS “organized crime” budget didn’t reflect total budgeted anti-gang spending, which hasn’t been tallied.
Spence questioned whether all the spending totaled by the budget board staff — including a raise for troopers — reflects border security items. By phone, Barton said all the considered items relate directly to border security; board staff only included the raises for officers working on border operations.
Patrick said the 2014-15 state budget “cut border security and funding to fight criminal gangs.”
But his backup did not account for all border security spending, which exceeds the previous budget’s total by about one third.
We strive not to hold people responsible for information not available when they make their claims. Yet our sense here is that Patrick could have pinned down details before he spoke.
Still, the fact that anti-gang spending has yet to be totaled leaves a possible element of truth. We rate this statement as Mostly False.
Says the 2014-15 state budget “cut border security and funding to fight criminal gangs.”
Dan Patrick in June 27 campaign video
Mostly False meter needed