AUSTIN (KXAN) – As Donald Trump prepares to start his presidency, Texas lawmakers make a new push to get the federal government to pay more of the cost of border security. Republican State Representative Dennis Bonnen announced the effort at a Capitol news conference. “There’s a price to be paid for a border that is porous and unsecure, and Texas has been paying that price,” Bonnen said. He and other state lawmakers are calling on the federal government to pay Texas $2.8 billion to reimburse border security costs.
“I really think they’re looking for the exit ramp here on the border spending, because it’s so much money,” Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root said, speaking on KXAN’s State of Texas. “It’s a tight budget, Donald Trump is now in the White House, so they’ve got perfect cover to do this.”
The request comes as Texas lawmakers begin their work at the State Capitol. Lawmakers learned their job of passing the state budget will be more difficult. Revenue estimates show that state has about $104.9 billion in general revenue available for the two-year budget. That’s more than $8 billion less than last year. “You have two choices,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told lawmakers. “Raise revenue, or focus on cost containment and spending your money more wisely.” Patrick says lawmakers need to focus on the second option. “We’re not raising taxes,” he said.
Many fear that means cuts for the biggest areas of the state budget: health care and education. “I think the area of the budget where we’re going to see probably the most debate about how to approach it is education,” said Brandi Grissom, Austin Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News. “It’s going to be a House versus Senate type of battle,” Grissom added, noting Patrick’s support for school vouchers could lead to friction at the Capitol.
State of Texas airs Sunday morning at 8:30 on KXAN.