Abbott blames 'mental health' for Uvalde shooting after cutting $211 million from mental health agency

Abbott announced the budget cuts in late April to continue funding his immigration crackdown, Operation Lone Star.

click to enlarge Beto O'Rourke directly confronts Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference last week. - Twitter / @jordanUhl
Twitter / @jordanUhl
Beto O'Rourke directly confronts Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference last week.
Gov. Greg Abbott's declaration that the Uvalde school shooting shows Texas must "do a better job with mental health" came less a month after he slashed $211 million from the state agency that oversees mental health services.

During a Wednesday press conference, Abbott called for improvements to Texas' mental health services the in the wake of the shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. During the presser, the Republican governor made no mention of gun reform.

“We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period," Abbott said. "We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it."

However, that pledge flies in the face of Abbott's April 29 announcement that he's cutting $500 million from state programs so he can continue funding Operation Lone Star, his much-touted immigration crackdown. The deepest of those cuts — $211 million — was to the the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees mental health along with Children's Medicaid, food stamps and more.

In his announcement, Abbott said the cuts "will not affect any agency or program function." He gave no information to back up that claim.

Operation Lone Star, the centerpiece of the governor's 2022 reelection campaign, has drawn criticism for being a pricy political stunt. What's more, recent reports suggest Abbott and other Republican leaders have played fast and loose with the facts about how many criminals it's swept up.

Abbott's crackdown has deployed 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border at a cost to the state of $2 billion annually, the Texas Tribune reports. The governor unveiled the recent budget cuts after state military officials warned that the mission couldn't stay afloat through the end of the year without additional money.

Meanwhile, Abbott faces increasing pressure to call a special session to address Texas' lax gun regulations.

Beto O'Rourke, Abbott's Democratic rival in the gubernatorial race, made headlines by directly confronting him at Wednesday's press conference. Further, State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, and other Democrats are demanding Abbott call a special legislative session to address gun reforms.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.


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