Texas lawmakers in charge of putting together the state’s budget for the upcoming session are searching for additional funding for the state-led, multi-million dollar border security operation. Lawmakers are also looking at how to replace money already spent for that effort.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s activation of the National Guard has prompted members of the Texas Senate Committee on Finance to review the money already spent to begin the guard’s training.
State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, questioned Ursala Parks from the Legislative Budget Board on how the state will pay for this initiative when the Texas National Guard’s budget is about $15 million a year and the cost of their deployment is expected to cost $12 million per month.
Garcia: "How do they get money to pay for the hotel cost, and transportation and fuel and salaries and all the other things that we have to pay for?"
Parks: "I think there are some other mechanisms that might be available to help address these costs. One of them would be a disaster declaration on the part of the governor."
Parks said the governor’s office could continue to shift money between state funds -- a tactic the governor has already used to kick off the guard’s border training -- but lawmakers are concerned about replacing those funds during the upcoming 2015 legislative session.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the head of the Texas National Guard, said without appropriate funding the guard could have to come back prematurely.
“If there was no funding found at a certain date, probably the 15th of October, then we would start retrograding folks back," Nichols said.
Perry hasn't indicated how long the National Guard would be deployed at the border. Nichols said based on past experiences he doesn’t believe the state will be reimbursed by the federal government for the operation.