Texas Home Speaker pitches spending greater than $100 million for psychological well being, college security applications


Texas Home Speaker Dade Phelan, middle, speaks with Gov. Greg Abbott, proper, and State Rep. Ben Leman, R-Anderson, left, on the Home flooring in Could 2021. Credit score: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Texas Home Speaker Dade Phelan pitched redirecting greater than $100 million in state funding to rapidly enhance psychological well being and college security applications earlier than college begins once more subsequent fall.

His plan got here in response to a $50 million request from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, to right away buy bulletproof shields for varsity police departments. Phelan mentioned he additionally supported that buy.

“I consider our respective chambers have the duty to take rapid, concrete motion with the aim of constructing our colleges as secure as doable earlier than the beginning of the upcoming college yr,” Phelan mentioned in a letter to Patrick on Monday. “Your suggestion to dedicate $50 million towards outfitting native college regulation enforcement with bulletproof shields is a worthwhile aim to that finish, and you’ve got my full help in that endeavor.”

The legislative funding requests from the leaders of the Texas Home and Senate come because the state remains to be reeling from the nation’s second deadliest college taking pictures in historical past — after an 18-year-old gunman killed 21 folks at a Uvalde elementary college final month.

[Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls for spending $50 million to buy bulletproof shields for school police]

Patrick instructed the funding for bulletproof shields two weeks in the past, saying they may have helped law enforcement officials extra rapidly confront the gunman within the Uvalde college taking pictures.

The Legislature, which units the state’s two-year finances, just isn’t scheduled to return into session till January. Meaning shifting funding would require a course of referred to as “finances execution,” which permits lawmakers to take cash that’s already been appropriated and redirect it to a different supply. Republican state leaders have most lately used the method to ship about $1 billion to Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott’s pricey border mission that was operating out of funds.

Phelan mentioned lawmakers can have the choice to make use of surplus cash within the Basis Faculty Program to cowl the prices of the brand new applications with out impacting the funds of any college district within the course of. This system is the first supply of funding for all Texas colleges and ensures all colleges obtain roughly the identical quantity of funding per pupil.

Phelan’s request consists of an estimated:

  • $37.5 million in further yearly funding for the Texas Youngster Well being Entry Via Telemedicine program, which offers telemedicine providers for colleges to assist establish and assess kids with behavioral wants and provides them entry to psychological well being providers. The state’s present yearly $25 million funding for this system serves 40% of the state.
  • $10.5 million per yr to create “pediatric disaster stabilization and response” groups throughout the state to provide kids and households entry to disaster intervention. The groups can reply instantly to a psychological well being disaster and create a bridge to ongoing care, which may take strain off the foster care system and hospital emergency rooms. Phelan desires to create six full groups and 6 half groups, which might have a startup price of $3 million.
  • $575,000 in yearly funding per staff for “multisystemic remedy” groups, which supply intervention aimed toward lowering the danger of violence. There are presently seven groups within the state, and 140 groups are required to satisfy the statewide want. Every staff would additionally require a $100,000 price for first-year coaching.
  • $950,000 in yearly funding for 2 further “coordinated specialty care” groups, together with one within the Uvalde space, that deal with youth experiencing a primary episode of psychosis, which is linked with an elevated chance of committing suicide if untreated.
  • $30 million per yr to develop the variety of pediatric psychological well being beds in hospitals throughout the state.
  • $7 million to offer all regulation enforcement cadets and energetic regulation enforcement officers research-based active-shooter coaching developed by the Superior Legislation Enforcement Fast Response Coaching Heart at Texas State College.
  • $7 million to make sure that the Texas Faculty Security Heart at Texas State College can present all college districts within the state coaching on active-shooter response and a overview of their response plans for these assaults.
  • $18.7 million for all of Texas’ public and constitution colleges to buy panic alert know-how, as legislatures in New Jersey and Florida have performed.

The request must be permitted by Phelan and Patrick, in addition to the leaders of the budget-writing committees in every chamber: Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, and Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston. As a result of the governor has declared a catastrophe in Uvalde to deal with the taking pictures, Phelan’s workplace mentioned lawmakers wouldn’t want a letter from the affected businesses declaring that they might not be negatively impacted by the cash switch. That step is often wanted when lawmakers need to use the finances execution process.

“The approaching yr will deliver many debates and coverage discussions about how our state approaches the problem of college security, psychological well being, police coaching, firearm security, and extra, and I stay up for working with you on this essential mission to make Texas a safer place,” Phelan mentioned. “It’s my fervent hope that our chambers can come collectively earnestly to do what is correct for the State of Texas and the neighborhood of Uvalde, starting with the initiatives that you simply and I’ve now each proposed.”

Home Democrats have been crucial of the Republican state management’s response to the Uvalde taking pictures, during which 19 college students and two lecturers have been killed. They’ve referred to as for “common sense gun security measures” and have criticized choices by GOP leaders final yr to loosen gun legal guidelines, most notably permitting any Texan to legally carry a handgun with no license or coaching.

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This text initially appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/06/13/texas-speaker-dade-phelan-uvalde-shooting/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and fascinating Texans on state politics and coverage. Be taught extra at texastribune.org.


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