Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sent the following letter to Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont:
Dear Speaker Phelan,
Thank you for your letter today. I am pleased we are able to find alignment on issues relating to school safety and mental health, addressing the needs of the state to work toward a day when senseless acts of violence like those in Uvalde do not happen again.
I appreciate your willingness to act immediately on budget execution of $50 million, as I originally requested is just the first down payment, on supplying ballistic shields to school law enforcement. This is just the beginning of the process of appropriately equipping all law enforcement with another important tool to provide a speedy response to any threat. As we move forward this will require additional funds to ensure all officers across the state will have immediate access to these shields. This will need to be part of our base budget.
As committees in our two chambers urgently begin meeting there are indeed several items that you have outlined that will also require budget execution to ensure that we are prepared for a return to school in August. I am prepared to sign off on these items listed below that we can fund now for the upcoming school year.
For the remaining items, and several more that the Senate has discussed, I know my members want to offer input as we quickly advance this agenda. No doubt your members share that same passion. We can address those issues as the committees continue to work through their charges.
With respect to the specific items you outlined, I agree to budget execution to fund the following for the upcoming school year. I support these initiatives for the long term but believe that the full legislature should have the opportunity to address funding these items beyond the 2022-23 school year.
- Expand Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) statewide
- Increase the number of Multisystemic (MST) across the state
Per your suggestion, I agree to add 5 to 7 MST teams in the fall of 2022 and expect the legislature to review the addition of more teams during the upcoming legislative session.
- Expand Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) teams across the state
Per your suggestion, I agree to 2 new teams and, in particular, I support a dedicated team in San Antonio with the capacity to serve the Uvalde area.
- Provide Funding for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT)
- Provide funding for the Texas School Safety Center
- Provide funding to school districts to allow for the purchase of silent panic alert technology
Senate Bill 500 (86th Legislative Session) provided $100 million for school hardening, which includes this technology. Of the $100 million made available, $14 million still remains unused, and is available until the end of the fiscal year. If additional funding is needed, I am in full support.
One other matter we must address is money for fusion centers, which have proven successful with law enforcement identifying immediate threats and passing them on to school districts. I would like to set aside $5 million to see how we can expand this now and address further expansion through the work in our committees and into the next session.
We also need further funding of automatic locking doors that have alarms when opened, and metal detectors, which have proven effective at Santa Fe High School in the aftermath of the shooting there.
These are items that I believe all members in both chambers want and deserve to have their voices heard in upcoming hearings and during the upcoming legislative session.
I look forward to working on all these matters with you.
Thank you again for agreeing to fund the shields and bringing forth other important items.
Lt. Governor of Texas