DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democratic State Representative Mary Gonzalez of El Paso criticized Governor Abbott’s policy of building a state border wall.
“Where are our priorities? We have a very serious electrical grid issue happening right now,” she said.READ MORE: Hump Day Goes 'Green' For A Person In Irving After $1 Million Scratch Ticket Win 💵💵
She also said she doesn’t like the way the Governor made the $250 million down payment by having the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) transfer the money from its budget to the state’s disaster fund.
“We need to ensure the Governor isn’t abusing his executive authority and going through the process of appropriations oversight. He has the power to call a special session where we can have this conversation about the funding.”
During the Governor’s news conference Wednesday, June 16, the Republican legislators who oversee the passage of the state budget in the House and Senate said the Governor has the authority to transfer the money under a disaster declaration — which he issued May 31 because of the record number of migrants illegally crossing into Texas.
Representative Greg Bonnen, R-League City said, “This is an allocation of funds that had already been appropriated.”
A spokesman with the Texas Comptroller’s Office said the transfer of funds will be made from TDCJ’s fiscal year 2023 budget.
Only state funds will be used.
Similar transfers were made after Hurricane Harvey and other disasters.
In his letter to the Executive Director of the Department of Criminal Justice, the Governor said it will be up to state leadership to find the money to pay the agency back.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
Representative Gonzalez said, “I think this is why we have a legislative process. So the Governor can’t just move things and then say okay, legislators go figure out after I did this, where the money should come from.”
Governor Abbott said Wednesday the state has no other choice but to act. “The bottom line is this: The Biden administration has abandoned its responsibility to apply federal law to secure the border and enforce the immigration law and Texans are suffering as a consequence of that neglect. Texas is stepping up to get the job done.”
A Department of Criminal Justice spokesman says that starting yesterday, the agency began moving inmates from the Dolph Briscoe Prison in Dilley, Texas to other facilities to make room for those arrested on state crimes at the border.
A statement from Governor Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze said, “In conversations between the Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security and TDCJ, it was determined that the Briscoe Unit was in a strategic location to house those arrested for committing a crime along the border and had adequate staffing to run the facility. TDCJ has assured the task force that they have adequate space for Briscoe inmates in other facilities and that TDCJ employees at the unit will keep their current positions.”
No word yet how the state will finance the rest of its border wall.
The Governor has said it’s too early to determine the cost of the project.
But he has invited Texans and all Americans to donate their own money for it.
A Comptroller office spokesman said money that’s collected through the state website is placed into the state treasury every night and made available to the Governor’s office and the disaster fund.MORE NEWS: Parker County Sheriff's Bust Multi-State Scam, Arrest Seventy 18 Construction Owner Richard Wortham
WATCH INTERVIEW WITH STATE REP. GONZALEZ HERE