AUSTIN (KXAN) — Billions more could go to border security efforts funded by Texas taxpayers, and state lawmakers asked questions Monday about the proposed cost to keep Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star going into the future.

Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives would like to surge an additional $4.6 billion into border security this session. The 1,033-page budget proposal they released in January calls for dividing that among 13 state agencies helping to carry out the governor’s operation.

The Texas Military Department would receive the most in that allocation — $2.2 billion, while the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) would get almost $1.2 billion, the next highest amount. The heads of both agencies appeared Monday morning before a lengthy hearing from the House Appropriations subcommittee. Col. Steve McCraw with DPS faced questions about what his agency could do with the extra money.

During one exchange, State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Houston Democrat, asked McCraw, “Are we stopping the fentanyl, or are we stopping the migrants?” McCraw responded by saying, “What we hope to do is stop the Mexican cartels. It’s the Mexican cartels that are moving the migrants and the drugs.”

The House budget bill would let DPS hire hundreds more officers and give them a pay raise.

Gov. Abbott included DPS when he launched Operation Lone Star at the border in 2021. The state already gave the operation more than $4.3 billion. The governor made border security funding an emergency legislative item during this session, so Texans should expect additional resources to keep flowing south.

Outside of Monday’s hearing at the Capitol, though, activists held a rally to argue it’s time to direct money toward other priorities in Texas.

“There are so much better ways that we could be investing this money in our children’s future, to fix the grid, to fund medical care, to make sure everyone has a roof over their head,” Bethany Carson with Grassroots Leaderships said. “We know that Texans are struggling in so many ways right now, so we don’t need to be funding more racial profiling and locking people up, and instead we need to really invest in our future.”

According to the House budget bill, here’s a breakdown of where the $4.6 billion proposed for more border security efforts would go:

  • Office of the Attorney General – $2.6 million
  • Office of the Governor – $1 billion
  • Texas Department of State Health Services – $16.4 million
  • Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Council – $33.5 million
  • Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – $6.9 million
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice – $25.9 million
  • Texas Commission on Jail Standards – $400,000
  • Texas Commission on Law Enforcement – $300,000
  • Texas Military Department – $2.2 billion
  • Texas Department of Public Safety – $1.2 billion
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department – $33.6 million
  • Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board – $7.2 million
  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – $8.8 million