Is Texas Spending on Border Security Really Just Political Theater?

And will the federal government give them more cash?

By Nathan BernierApril 30, 2015 9:07 am

In the 2012 to 2013 budget cycle, Texas spent $222 million on border security. In this years’ 2014 to 2015 budget, it was $343 million. That amount looks to be increasing, as Governor Greg Abbott says he wants additional funding for border security across the state.

That money has to come from somewhere, and some state lawmakers think the federal government should reimburse Texas for its increasing border security cost. Today, the Texas House is considering a resolution asking Congress for more than $600 million for border security compensation.

So, will this money actually come back to Texas, or is this just more political theater?

Mark Jones is a political scientist at the Baker Institute at Rice University.

“It’s symbolic, I think President Obama would be of the opinion that he’s doing and the federal government is doing a fine job of securing the border,” Jones says. “And if Texas wants to send DPS officers and National Guard troops to the border they absolutely have the right to do so – but they need to foot the bill.”

Jones says that despite Texas’ legislature increasing desire to patrol the border, it’s largely engaged in an act of political theatre – lawmakers are hoping to garner support from their constituents and keep them in office.

Regardless, the state is more likely to allocate funds to border patrol, an issue that several lawmakers have campaigned on.

“The audience for this piece of leg are the people who vote in the Texas republican primary,” he says. “The real question is, is this a good use of taxpayer money? And, in some ways some would say it is, and some would say it is not.”

Outside of the federal government’s allocation to the state, Jones says that money will have to come from somewhere, most likely from the state budget.