Commissioners vote on plan to re-evaluate programs affected by Abbott's cuts

Travis County Precinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea came out swinging Tuesday morning against Governor Greg Abbott. 
               
It was during the discussion on the $1.5 million in criminal justice grant money he cut to a handful of programs because of Sheriff Sally Hernandez's controversial new ICE policy.

"The cuts that the Governor, I think recklessly, recommended are hurting veterans, women, they're hurting children that are struggling with drug and alcohol problems," Shea said.  "If he has a disagreement with the sheriff he should try and figure out how to deal with the sheriff or the sheriff's department," Shea said from the dais.

That’s programs like veterans court, prostitute prevention, drug diversion court and 6 others.

"Note of course none of A through I has anything to do with immigration and none of A through I is under the managerial control of the Travis County Sheriff's Department," said Judge Sarah Eckhardt.

Judge Eckhardt has a plan.  Over the next 3 months, look for ways to conserve, consolidate and re-evaluate the programs -- some of which are in the pilot stage anyway.

"We will do a mini-budgeting process over the next few months on these programs.  We have an annualized process.  We look at these every single year but we're going to take a pause, look at these programs through the 3-month time period and figure out to what extent that we can continue them on the county taxpayers dollars rather than grant funding," Eckhardt said.

Commissioners say jobs are on the line too.

"Under normal procedure when a grant goes away these grant-funded positions go away.  That's 18 and a half positions.  Without these positions these programs would not move forward," Eckhardt said.

Republican Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty was off the dais Tuesday.  He said several weeks ago he wishes Hernandez would just comply rather than lose the money.
               
Since last week, the U.S. Attorney's office says federal warrants were submitted to the sheriff's office for about 40 undocumented inmates. 
               
Approximately 7 of them bonded out before the warrants arrived.
               
Eckhardt says she's pleased ICE is moving quicker to issue warrants.

"I think that's the better practice and I think it inoculates Travis County against an unwarranted detainer," Eckhardt said.

Judge Eckhardt also wants to plan for some worst case scenarios like what to do if the county loses $1.8 million next year or even all state funding which is more than $50 million.
               
Commissioners also thanked county residents for a crowd funding effort called Travis County Stronger Together.  It's raised more than $100,000.

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