On Wednesday, a group of Texas Republican lawmakers asked the Obama administration to pick up the $2.8 billion tab for funding border security efforts.
“There’s a price to be paid for a border that is porous and unsecure,” State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said, “and Texas has been paying that price.”
Bonnen led the effort, saying Texas has been paying to protect the Texas-Mexico border when it should be the federal government’s responsibility.
“Over the past four years, Texas, both at the state and local level has spent $2.8 billion dollars,” Bonnen said, “on law enforcement, health care, education, and incarceration of the federal government’s failure to secure their border.”
Texas spent $800 million in 2015 on border security efforts, and the Texas Department of Public Safety is asking for an additional $300 million this year.
“This is a challenge that is ongoing that affects not just the border communities,” State Rep. Tan Parker said during Wednesday’s press conference, “but it affects everyone in the state of Texas.”
State Senator Jose Menendez, a Democrat from San Antonio, says this isn’t a partisan issue.
“Border security is the job of the national government,” Menendez said, “and I don’t see why the State of Texas and our citizens should be paying double taxes.”
Menendez says the urgency to get that money back in the state’s hands has a lot to do with Monday’s announcement that lawmakers should anticipate a much tighter budget this session.
“We have a tremendous need for those dollars, those Texas taxpayer dollars to stay in Texas addressing Texas needs,” Menendez said. “I am 100 percent supportive that the federal government pay us back for what we spent and that they take up the responsibility.”
Bonnen said Wednesday that he is hopeful that a Trump administration means the federal government will not rely as much on Texas to secure the border.
President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bonnen said if Trump follows through on his promise it could free up money in Texas that lawmakers hope to use on other issues.
Texas straddles two-thirds of the U.S.-Mexico border.