Lawmakers in Texas have decided to kill a plan that would have reallocated $3 million from Gov. Greg Abbott’s homeland security budget to fund an initiative to help sex trafficking victims.
Texas legislators have decided to revoke the plan to allow $3 million in funding for victims of sex trafficking.
The Texas Tribune reports that the plan had originally been ratified after the state’s House of Representatives approved it in a 113 to 32 vote.
However, in closed-door budget discussions, House legislators disagreed with members of the Senate, stating that their “spending priorities contained significant differences.”
The budget plan would have marked the first time in Texas history that legislators put aside money to help sex trafficking victims.
Rep. Gina Hinojosa, who fronted the proposal, says, “Obviously, I’m disappointed.”
Back in February, the Tribune covered an article about Texas’ growing sex trafficking epidemic. The article consisted of statistics and stories from numerous teens who became involved with sex trafficking after the foster care system failed them.
One of the stories was centered around a young woman named Mia, a now 19-year-old who had bounced among 19 different foster families and institutions. Many of these homes exposed her to both sexual and physical abuse, and she was coerced into sex work. Mia was the lead plaintiff in a 2014 class-action lawsuit, claiming that Texas had neglected around 12,000 children in its foster care system.
It’s estimated that Texas houses over 80,000 child sex trafficking victims.
Dallas Police Detective Michael McMurray stated, “We’ll put all these pimps, all these traffickers in prison, and the word will get out, and people won’t be doing this anymore because they’ll be too afraid to go to prison. And that’ll solve the problem.”
Thankfully, since 2009, four measures focused on combating sex trafficking have been passed by the state of Texas.
For example, a law was recently passed to allow police to take suspected victims of sex trafficking into “emergency custody.” However, that facility does not exist because it never received funding.
Rep. Gene Wu told the Tribune:
“I try to be upbeat about the Legislature, every time I come here. But my little joke is, sometimes the Texas Legislature is like the guy who’s really insistent on taking you out to lunch, but when the check comes, he’s nowhere to be found.”