Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Phelan, Senate Finance, House Appropriations Committee Chairs Announce Additional $105.5 Million For School Safety, Mental Health Initiatives
Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Joan Huffman, and House Appropriations Chair Dr. Greg Bonnen today announced the transfer of $105.5 million to support additional school safety and mental health initiatives through August 31, 2023. This additional funding will boost actions the State of Texas has already taken to make schools safer and support the mental health of children, teachers, and families following the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
$100.5 million will be transferred to state agencies and programs to enhance school safety and mental health services in Uvalde and throughout Texas. The funding will provide:
- $50 million for bullet-resistant shields;
- $5.8 million to expand the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) statewide;
- $4.7 million to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to increase Multisystemic Therapy (MST) across the state;
- $950,000 to HHSC to expand Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) teams across the state;
- $7 million for rapid response training by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center and $3 million for local law enforcement agencies to offset travel expenditures associated with the training;
- $7 million to the Texas School Safety Center for on-site campus assessments to evaluate access control measures;
- $17.1 million for school districts to purchase silent panic alert technology; and
- $5 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety to expand fusion center research and capabilities.
State leadership also approved up to $5 million to be used by the Hill Country Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) Center to assist in evaluating mental health services in the Uvalde community and preparing a needs assessment for the legislature.
"The State of Texas is acting swiftly to ensure our schools are secure and that children, teachers, and families across Texas have the support and resources they need to be safe as we work to prevent future tragedies like the heinous crime committed in Uvalde," said Governor Abbott. "Our communities – urban and rural – are stronger when Texans are safe and healthy, and I thank my partners in the legislature for quickly addressing the need to expand critical mental health and school safety initiatives in the Lone Star State."
"With the new school year starting in a few short months, it is of paramount importance that we provide this funding to improve school safety and mental health services," said Lieutenant Governor Patrick. "A few weeks ago, I said I wanted to ensure we provided bullet-resistant shields to our schools as soon as we could. Schools must be equipped with all the tools they need to protect our students. This funding will also address important mental health care issues. In the upcoming session, we will build on the $100 million we appropriated in 2019 after the Santa Fe tragedy, for these issues, and more."
"Funding these much-needed initiatives marks the first of many steps that we will take at the legislature to respond to the horrific events in Uvalde and prevent another tragedy like this from happening again," said Speaker Phelan. "Important policy discussions and debates remain on how the legislature will tackle issues such as school safety, mental health, firearm safety and more, but this important first step will ensure that action is taken and implemented before school starts again in August. The Texas House looks forward to working more on these issues in the coming months and throughout the 88th Legislature beginning in January."
"Immediately providing over $100 million in additional support for mental health and school safety initiatives will ensure these additional resources are available prior to the 2022 - 2023 school year," said Senator Huffman, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "However, this additional financial support is not the end, as the legislature will continue to prioritize these initiatives during the next budget cycle."
"In response to the recent tragedy that struck Uvalde, today the legislature has taken action to provide funding for necessary mental health services and school safety resources," said Dr. Bonnen, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. "Continuing on the investments made throughout past sessions, this commitment will ensure additional telehealth services are quickly available to more school-aged children both within the Uvalde community and across the state. This comprehensive approach to mental health services and enhanced school safety resources will ensure that actions are undertaken prior to the start of the school year, with a continued conversation and additional funding to be provided during the upcoming legislative session."
Governor Abbott has taken significant action to provide all available resources to support the Uvalde community following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School. Those actions include:
- Initiating the State of Texas' comprehensive plan to assist and support members of the community, including co-locating state agency representatives to the Family Assistance Center for on-hand assistance in finding benefits.
- Issuing a disaster declaration to accelerate all available state and local resources to assist the Uvalde community.
- Requesting Texas legislative leaders convene special legislative committees to begin examining and developing legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.
- Directing the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to begin immediately conducting comprehensive school safety reviews to ensure all Texas public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety.
- Directing the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide strategies to make Texas public schools safer through heightened safety standards.
- Instructing the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) programs to provide training to all school districts across the state, prioritizing school-based law enforcement.
- Directing TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to expand and accelerate the ability to report suspicious activity through the iWatchTexas reporting system.
- Investing an initial $5 million to establish a long-term Family Resiliency Center in Uvalde County to serve as a hub for community services, including access to critical mental health resources.
- Working with the OneStar Foundation to create a one-stop webpage for donations to support the victims' families, teachers, and the Uvalde community.
- Directing the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to ensure all children in Uvalde have access to behavioral health resources and community support.
- Directing TEA to create a new Chief of School Safety and Security position within the agency.
- Urging the Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) to increase lie-and-try prosecutions of people who lie on information provided for gun background checks.