HOUSTON – Judge Lina Hidalgo held a news conference Monday afternoon to point out some investments that she said are included in the proposed Harris County budget of Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting.
Representatives of the Harris County Office of Management and Budget, Flood Control District, and Hospital District were also in attendance to provide additional details about the proposed budget.
In her address, Hidalgo said the budget decreases the tax rate and adds millions of dollars to public safety, including a pay increase for frontline police officers. She also said it supports critical infrastructure.
Harris County’s proposed that the $1.4 billion justice and safety budget makes up 64% of the county’s total general fund proposal. This constitutes a 23% increase since 2019, Hidalgo said.
According to a news release from Hidalgo’s office, the sheriff and constables’ offices would see a total of $96.7 million in increases compared to the last full fiscal year, including funding for at least 35 new violent crime investigators and 100 new detention officers, as well as 22 new prosecutors for the district attorney.
The proposed budget would also fund pay raises for all frontline police officers across the sheriff and constables, for a total raise of more than 6% since the last full fiscal year, a news release said.
Four or more commissioners court members must be present in order to pass the reduced tax rate and corresponding budget. Otherwise, the county would have to consider hiring and spending freezes across all departments, Hidalgo said.
For the sheriff, this could mean losing funding equivalent to the salaries of nearly 300 deputies and more than 350 detention officers at the jail, according to a release. For the constables, Hidalgo said it could mean losses of funding equivalent to the salaries of approximately 200 deputies. Further, Hidalgo said the county would not be able to move forward with additional raises for all frontline officers.
“These decisions affect hardworking Harris County residents and their families, and I’m excited about the potential opportunity to pass a budget that provides important public safety, flood control, and other services. A decision not to move forward with this budget would negatively impact so many people in our community. I look forward to tomorrow’s meeting and hope to see all four of my colleagues there,” Judge Hidalgo continued.
WATCH: Full press conference can be watched below: