Abbott, Texas leaders announce additional $105.5 million in funding for school safety, mental health initiatives

(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Abbott and state leaders announced $105.5 million in state funding is being allocated to expand school safety and mental health initiatives statewide.

It’s made available through a budget surplus of Foundation School Program Funds, according to a signed budget execution proposal by state leadership.

The money will help finance initiatives that will begin before the school year starts, proposed by House Speaker Dade Phelan and approved by the governor and state leadership.

“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,” Abbott said. “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.”

In line with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s proposal, $50 million was allocated for bullet-resistant shields to go to school resource officers and law enforcement statewide.

Of the funding, he said, “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.”

Another $5.8 million was allocated 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) statewide; and $950,000 to HHSC to expand Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) teams statewide.

Funding also went to expand school safety training, including $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. Another $7 million was allocated to the Texas School Safety Center for on-site campus assessments to evaluate access control measures and $17.1 million for school districts to purchase silent panic alert technology. Another $5 million was allocated 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 to prepare a needs assessment and present it to the legislature.

“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,” Phelan said. “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.”