Hiring freeze leaves Texas watchdog agencies understaffed

At least 30 Texas investigative jobs remain unfilled after Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state hiring freeze in January in an attempt to save $200 million in anticipation of a budget shortfall.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2oZlWgM ) reported the unfilled jobs include two at the jail standards commission and one at the Texas State Securities Board.

Over 50 agencies requested waivers to the order. This week the governor granted permission to fill dozens of positions to some agencies, including the insurance department, the environmental quality commission and law-enforcement agencies.

“Public safety is a top concern for Governor Abbott,” spokesman John Wittman said Wednesday.

State investigators respond to crime and safety threats in various areas. Some state employee groups and safety advocates said staff shortages have put the public at risk while potentially stalling justice for crime victims.

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