AUSTIN, Texas – Ahead of an upcoming floor debate in the Texas House, state Rep. César Blanco, D-El Paso, has offered 15 amendments to the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act, or the budget bill.
One of the amendments requires the Comptroller to conduct a study on the impact of a 20 percent border adjustment tax on Texas’ economy and jobs.
Another amendment requires the State Auditor to audit Border Security operations by state agencies receiving border security appropriations. Another amendment requires DPS to develop a plan to draw down its border security operations due to changes in federal spending levels relating to border security.
Another amendment requires report of any condemned Public School Fund (PSF) lands for the construction of a border wall, and to detail the loss of PSF dollars for Texas public schools.
Another amendment requires the Comptroller to conduct a study on the economic impact of undocumented immigrants on the State Economy and budget.
The full list of amendments are listed at the end of this story. Here is Rep. Blanco’s statement about his amendments:
“This Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives will take up and debate SB 1, the budget bill, also known as the General Appropriations Act. The budget is a unique bill, as it is the only bill we are required to pass in the a legislative session. But this bill is also a moral document for our state, it details what our priorities are for the state of Texas and all of its 27 million plus residents.
“Last session I voted against the budget because it failed to prioritize critical programs and services for our children, elderly, veterans and disabled. Last session the budget underfunded our children’s education and healthcare, it underfunded CPS, made drastic cuts to Medicaid, failed to fund Hazelwood for our veterans, and it made irresponsible appropriations for border security.
“Today I pre-filed 15 amendments to address some of the shortcomings I see in the current budget bill. Many of my amendments aim at making border security appropriations more accountable and transparent which advances truth in budgeting. One of my border security amendments would eliminate the 50-hour work week for DPS border security operations since the agency has hired 250 new troopers specifically for border security. This same amendment, would transfer the $145.6 million in savings to fund the Hazlewood program for our veterans and their families.
“I also filed an amendment re-purposing $30 million border security dollars to increase investments in our military communities to ensure they remain competitive in any upcoming federal BRACs (Base Realignment And Closure) and help keep these communities strong economic engines for the State of Texas.
“Because I am also concerned with some of the actions of the Trump administration regarding trade, immigrants and the construction of a border wall, I offered a few amendments that would keep Texas lawmakers apprised of the negative fiscal impacts of Trump’s policies on Texas’ economy and budget.
“I have also been working with many of my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus who have also offered very important amendments related to public education, Texas grants, workforce development, CPS, and Medicaid.
“This session we have spent a lot of time fixing problems that arose from last session’s budget. I say, let’s get it right this time and pass a budget that funds critical programs and services for our most vulnerable populations and helps develop an educated and healthy workforce for our state economy.”
Here are Rep. Blanco’s amendments:
1) Eliminate DPS “Border Security” 50-Hour Work Week
Cut funding form 50-hour work week under DPS add line item under Article IX for Support Military and Veterans Exemptions (Hazlewood).
2) Border cost containment efforts.
Require dollar specificity in cost containment strategies.
DPS to eliminate duplicate functions with federal counterparts.
3) Audit Border Security Operations Report
Require State Auditor to audit Border Security operations by state agencies receiving border security appropriations.
4) Border Security Drawdown Plan:
Require DPS to develop a plan to drawdown its border security operations due to changes in federal spending levels relating to border security, and provide this information to the Legislature.
5) Federal Reimbursement for Border Security:
Requiring that all appropriations made for border security operations have a promise of reimbursement from the federal government.
6) Border Security Indicators Comparison and Cost-Effectiveness Study
Requires agencies receiving border security appropriations to include a comparison of performance indicators for the previous 5 fiscal years; requiring LBB to report on the cost-effectiveness of border security appropriations.
7) DPS Border Security Funds Transfer Prohibition
Eliminates the exception that funds may be transferred from border security appropriations to fund 50-hour work weeks for agency’s troopers statewide.
8) GLO Report on Impact of Border Wall to PSF Lands:
Article VI, General Land Office, require report of any condemned PSF lands for the construction of a border wall, detail loss of PSF dollars for Texas public schools.
9) Trump Border Tax Study
Comptroller to conduct a study on the impact of a 20% border tax on Texas’ economy and jobs.
10) Audit DPS Driver License Centers Appropriations:
Require State Auditor to audit Goal F/Strategy F Driver Licenses Services and Driver Safety.
11) State Election Infrastructure Study
Requiring the Secretary of State to conduct a study regarding cyber attacks on election infrastructure.
12) Study Economic Impact of Immigrants
Comptroller to conduct a study on the economic impact of undocumented immigrants on the State Economy and budget.
13) Permanent Fund Supporting Military and Veterans Exemptions
Reduce appropriations to the Texas Equalization Grant program and transfer $182,688,756 to the Permanent Fund Supporting Military and Veterans Exemptions.
14) Fund Deferred Maintenance for the Texas Military Department
Reduce border security dollars to fund deferred maintenance for the Texas Military Department ($19,171,475).
15) Increase DEAAG funding by $30 million
Cut border security funding by $30 million to increase funding to the Defense Economic Assistance Adjustment Grant Program.