Thousands of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will get the largest pay raise in history as part of the new state budget that awaits Gov. Rick Perry's signature, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The salary increase for about 4,400 state law enforcement officers averages 20 percent over the next two years, dwarfing the 3 percent pay raise for general state employees. It will cost the state $100 million. When coupled with an existing program that allows DPS troopers to earn overtime for working an extra hour a day, the cumulative increase in pay could total as much as 35 percent.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams was instrumental in an 11th-hour reversal of the conference committee's decision to eliminate funding for the Texas Fusion Center, part of a nationwide anti-terrorism program that began under the Department of Homeland Security. The de-funding was initiated by the Texas House, which cited a congressional report last year criticizing the fusion centers for “useless” intelligence gathering and wasteful spending on private contractors. Williams authored a rider that restored $12.6 million to the DPS budget “for the purpose of intelligence operations” — which effectively continues the functions of the fusion center without naming it. “I don't care what they call it, since the fusion center name has gotten such bad press nationally,” said Williams. “I was very reluctant about taking that money out. Nobody would doubt that it's a good use of our state funds and critical to the safety of our state.”