A money-saving proposal to combine state agencies that oversee police and firefighter training and local jail operations has public safety officials statewide worried about their future.What a pointless exercise! In the scheme of the state budget, these agencies' budgets barely qualify as a rounding error: About $6.5 million per year, between them, with $3.25 million going to TCLEOSE, $2.25 million to the Commission on Fire Protection, and just $1 million to the Commission on Jail Standards. And as others pointed out in Grissom's article, they all have quite different functions. You might save two or three administrative FTEs from HR or budget folks, but in short order I bet the need for middle management to patch over the competing missions under a single administrative structure would in practice make the project a wash, budget-wise. I doubt there's a million dollars in savings to be had, total, even if the merger could be accomplished on such short order with so little notice or planning.
After Gov. Rick Perry’s budget proposal to fold the state's Commission on Jail Standards, the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, and the Commission on Fire Protection into one agency, state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, filed a bill last week that would do just that. The individual agencies would be abolished, and a new agency, the Public Safety Licensing Commission, would be formed to take over their roles.
Meanwhile, such a merger amounts to fiddling while Rome burns. The needless complexity of reorganizing these agencies - not as a result of a Sunset recommendation or any formal process but just because the Governor tossed the idea out - is too much of a distraction between the budget, redistricting and everything else that's going on.
Want to save money on public safety? Figure out how to actualize the Governor's recommended $786 million in cuts at TDCJ without gutting treatment and diversion programming. Make the proposed $363 million in cuts at DPS a reality without reducing numbers of troopers or lengthening waits at the driver license offices. It can be done, but not if state leaders spend their time chasing down penny ante rabbit trails like this one.