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Patrick Calls on LBB to Correct Reports on Border Security Spending

Did LBB Tweak the Numbers to Provide Political Cover?

 

HOUSTON – Dan Patrick, State Senator and authentic conservative candidate for Lieutenant Governor, today called on the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to correct their reports on border security spending.

“I have said that public safety is governments first responsibility.  The Texas-Mexico border presents unique public safety concerns.  Yes, it’s the federal government’s responsibility – but it’s our problem.  Drug trafficking, human trafficking, and organized crime move freely across the border,” said Dan Patrick.

At the time, the Legislature voted on the budget based on information provided by the LBB showing a decrease in “border security” spending.  A May 20, 2013 LBB report showed “border security” strategy spending of about $82 million, which was about a $6 million decrease from the previous budget.

“The information contained in that report detailing a decrease in spending of border security should raise concerns about our commitments to securing our border.  When I voted against the budget, it was one of my motivations for doing so,” Patrick continued.  “At the time of the vote on the budget, this was the only information available.”

Following the adoption of the 2014-15 budget (SB1-83R), another report was produced.  The LBB’s June 2013 summary of the 2014-15 budget (SB1-83R) showed “border security” spending totaling $94.1 million.  This amount was a decrease from the $219.5 million dedicated to “border security” spending described in the same document for the 2012-13 budget (HB1-82R).

“This report gave me shocking news.  It indicated that the budget for border security had been slashed by more than $125 million,” Patrick added.

Nearly two months after the budget was adopted, a new report from the LBB showed an increase in “border security and related” spending.  An LBB report released in July 2013 shows “border security and related” spending totaling $331.2 million in the 2014-15 budget (SB1-83R).  The new number included spending on related items such as DPS pay raises, DNA testing, and recruit schools.  For example, the Schedule C salary raise was $74.9 million and applied to all state troopers.  This apparent increase is not comforting, because it includes funds from related items not spent directly on border security.  This new spending number is flawed because it inflates the spending figure by not prorating the specific amounts that actually went to border security from these related items.

“Lumping across-the-board pay raises for DPS Troopers, spending for DNA testing, and DPS recruit schools into the border security is disingenuous and misleading.

“Some people have alleged that the LBB went back and re-categorized spending after the budget vote in order to provide political cover to those who supported the budget vote.  Whatever the reason, the LBB should produce a report that more accurately reflects spending for border security.  Questions about an issue this important should not be left unanswered.

“I am calling on the LBB to review their methodology and revise their report to more accurately reflects the amount we will spend on border security for the 2014-2015 budget period.  They have produced three separate reports that show three different sets of numbers.  Which one is accurate?  Which one fairly represents what we actually budgeted for border security for 2014-2015?  The public deserves to know,” Patrick concluded.

 

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White Paper Attachment:

Troubling Contradictions in LBB Reports on Border Security Spending

 

Troubling Contradictions in LBB Reports

on Border Security Spending

 

Legislative Budget Board (“LBB”) reports on border security spending are confusing and contradictory.  Some reports show “border security” spending decreasing, while others show an increase for “border security and related spending”.  These contradictory reports create confusion regarding state spending on border security.

The Legislature voted to decrease “border security” spending.  At the time, the Legislature voted on the budget based on information provided by the LBB showing a decrease in “border security” spending.  A May 20, 2013 LBB report showed DPS “border security” strategy spending of about $82 million, which was about a $6 million decrease from the previous budget (SB 1 Conference Committee Report, 05/20/2013, p. 601).  Members of the Legislature and Lt. Governor based their actions on the understanding there was an apparent cut in “border security” spending.  This apparent decrease should raise concerns about our commitments to securing our border.

Summary reports from the LBB also showed a decrease in “border security” spending.  The LBB’s June 2013 summary of the 2014-15 budget (83-R: SB 1) showed “border security” spending totaling $94.1 million (Summary of SB 1 Conference Committee Report, p. 9).  This amount was a decrease from the $219.5 million dedicated to “border security” spending in the 2012-13 budget (82-R: HB 1) (Summary of Conference Committee Report on HB 1, p. 8).  It was only later the LBB produced a report showing an increase in “border security and related” spending.

Later reports from the LBB showed an increase in “borders security and related” spending.  An LBB report released in July 2013 shows “border security and related” spending totaling $331.2 million in the 2014-15 budget.  The new number included spending on related items such as DPS pay raises, DNA testing, and recruiting.  For example, the Schedule C salary raise was $74.9 million and applied to all state troopers.  This apparent increase is not comforting, because it includes funds from related items not spent directly on border security.  This new spending number is flawed because it inflates the spending figure by not prorating the specific amounts that actually went to border security from these related items.

These are troubling contradictions when we are attempting to determine what our state is spending on actual border security items.  As we debate border security, it is important to have accurate and reliable information on where our money goes.  If the LBB prorated the related spending, we could accurately determine the amount spent on border security.  As it currently stands, the reports only offer contradicting information.

 

FROM DAN PATRICK

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