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Texas DPS wants $1 billion to beef up border security

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AUSTIN — Texas’ unprecedented investment in security along its border with Mexico could become a billion-dollar proposition if the state agency spearheading that effort gets its way.

The Department of Public Safety is asking lawmakers for an additional $320 million in the next two-year budget to expand its law enforcement push at the border. That would come on top of a base border security budget of $750 million over the biennium that begins in 2018.

The new funds would help cover the salaries for the full allotment of 250 troopers OK’d last year; the cost of hiring another 250 troopers at the border; and new technology and equipment.

It’s no lock that lawmakers will OK the hefty sum next year, especially with worries about a tight budget cycle. The wish-list items were made as “exceptional items” in the appropriations requests that DPS — and all state agencies — send to the Legislative Budget Board.

And some Democrats, already skeptical of the effort, said they need better proof of the return on investment.

“If DPS wants $1 billion — after getting almost a billion last session — taxpayers need to know what they are paying for,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.

But border security remains a top issue for many Texas voters, looming large in races for both the White House and the state House. Republicans, who dominate the Legislature, often tout the strengthened presence along the Texas-Mexico line. – READ MORE

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