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Dallas County DA Takes Budget Battle to the Public

DA Craig Watkins shakes hands at Garland Town Hall meeting
DA Craig Watkins shakes hands at Garland Town Hall meeting

By BJ Austin

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-841467.mp3

Dallas, TX – The Dallas County District Attorney is taking his fight against budget cuts on the road. KERA's BJ Austin says D-A Craig Watkins went to Garland last night to make his case to a County Commissioner and a large audience.

More than 300 people crowded inside Garland's city council chambers, occasionally expressing opinions. (crowd noise) Dallas County Commissioners want the District Attorney to cut his budget 10%, or about 3.5. million dollars as the county struggles with a 64 million dollar budget shortfall. D-A Craig Watkins says that will be a blow to public safety. Commissioner Mike Cantrell disagrees.

Watkins: So the question becomes of our good commissioners, have you prioritized? Is it reasonable and is it common sense to say that we're gonna cut law enforcement because we just don't have the money: when we do have it, when we use it for other things.
Cantrell: I can tell you this: our court remains committed to having good public safety in Dallas County. And I can say this: since 2003, 59 positions have been added to the District Attorney's office.

Commissioner Cantrell says the D-A's town hall budget meetings are unprecedented. Watkins plans more of them; hoping to put public pressure on Commissioners to save his department from the budget axe.