AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) announced another round of school safety legislation Tuesday, flanked by families who lost children in the school shootings at Robb Elementary and Santa Fe High School.
“This is personal to me,” said Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde and has been the most vocal public official in advocating for the families’ needs after the May 24 massacre. “These people deserve more than what they got. Their little babies deserve more than what they got. And by God, we need to do something.”
Gutierrez plans to invite the families to the Capitol every week to announce new batches of school safety bills. Tuesday brought three new announcements relating to hardening schools, funding mental healthcare, and remembering victims of mass gun violence.
Senate Bill 737 would create the Texas School Patrol with 10,000 officers — enough to add an additional officer to every public school in Texas. Sen. Gutierrez said it would cost $750 million.
“Each parent should be able to send their kids to school knowing that they’re going to be able to pick them up at the end of the day,” he said. “We can afford to do this. And we should do this.”
Sen. Gutierrez also filed an appropriations request for $2 billion for mental healthcare and $2 billion for school hardening measures. He argued the state should save the $32.7 billion budget surplus for these kinds of needs, pushing back against the all-but-certain plan from top Republican leadership to spend a bulk of it on property tax cuts.
“There’s $18 billion sitting in Rainy Day,” he said, referring to the state’s savings account. “We keep hearing about this notion that we want to give property tax relief. Take it out of the $18 billion. That surplus wasn’t something that Republicans created. Let’s spend it on relief for healthcare, relief for rural mental health.”
SB 738 would require the Texas Department of Public Safety to ensure local law enforcement have emergency radio capabilities, addressing the failures in communication that contributed to a delayed response at Robb Elementary. It also requires mass shooting training for all public safety entities. The requirements only apply to counties “impacted by or adjacent to Operation Lone Star,” the Governor’s border security initiative.
“If you’re going to spend money on Operation Lone Star, you better spend money on the radios for the two counties north of the border,” Sen. Gutierrez said. “Not one damn radio worked inside that building. Cops were out there playing telephone for 77 minutes trying to figure out what was going on inside and outside. A complete and utter failure. Yes, this a story about terror. It’s also a story about rural neglect.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 15 would “honor the victims and survivors of mass gun violence” with a new memorial on the south lawn of the Capitol. The memorial would replace the Confederate Soldiers Monument and relocate it to the Austin State Cemetery.
“We plea for these changes, that you hear us, and that you see us and you acknowledge the pain that these families that stand behind me,” advocate with Community Justice Action Fund and Santa Fe High School parent Christina Delgado said.