EDITORIAL: State budget negotiations gives our Sen. Schwertner a chance to prove himself

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State Sen. Charles Schwertner has been given a real Texas-sized opportunity by being appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as one of the Senate Conferees who are meeting daily with their House counterparts in an effort to reconcile the differences in the two chambers’ budgets in order to pass a state appropriating act. It’s commonly referred to as HB 1 because it originated as the first bill of the House of Representatives.

The Senate’s version offers up a conservative approach to funding the state government by holding the line regarding spending on most issues. By and large, both the House and Senate versions of the budget are rooted in common sense that will offer some tax relief to local property and business owners. All of us hope our local leaders will fully engage in the meaningful dialogue that will bring us lower taxes without compromising essential services like infrastructure needs for the future.

It all seems so easy from the outside looking in. Well-meaning legislators elected by the voters all getting together to make sure the common good is reached in a timely manner.

Any one of us who has served on a committee at church, school or in the neighborhood know it’s never that simple. And when it comes to the complexities of state government, there seems to be no end to the special interest line. Most everyone has their hand out while claiming clean hands. We wish Sen.Schwertner, R-Georgetown, the best when it comes to dealing with the double dealers operating on our tax dollars.

Everything from public education, higher education, highways, economic development, agriculture and billions in grants are decided in one piece of legislation.

One small item that catches our eye as conservatives is an amendment that would make sure that law enforcement officer training dollars go back to real law enforcement agencies, regional law enforcement training academies and colleges and universities.

Why? Where’s all that money been going? To fund police labor unions. Yes, you just can’t make this stuff up.

In recent years. more than $20 million has been siphoned off by a labor union to do overpriced officer training and spend the rest on union headquarters, union vehicles, cell phones, salaries and union organizing. The organization has been audited and forced to pay back nearly $500,000 for funds used improperly. And we all assume that’s only the part they were caught at.

It’s time for law enforcement officer training dollars to go back where they belong and where the taxpayers can keep a closer eye on them.

We strongly encourage Sen. Schwertner to vote to keep the House amendments in HB 1 to make sure our officers are correctly trained and police labor unions are blocked from the government trough.

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