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D-A Battles Commissioners Over Budget

District Attorney Craig Watkins

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX –

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is rallying support to exempt his budget from the 10% cut ordered by Commissioners at two town hall meetings this week: Tuesday night in Oak Cliff, Wednesday night in Irving. KERA's BJ Austin says the D-A may find support at the meetings, but not at Commissioners Court - where he needs it.

District Attorney Craig Watkins says a 10% cut will force him to lay off 40 prosecutors and that will create serious backlogs and delays at the courthouse. Watkins says justice delayed is justice denied. And he says commissioners don't get it.

Watkins: They're not listening anymore. And so we had no choice but to go to the public, and hopefully the public will influence our Commissioners to do the right thing.

Commissioners Kenneth Mayfield and John Wiley Price declined the District Attorney's invitation to this week's town hall meetings. Commissioner Mike Cantrell did join the debate at the first one in Garland. He and John Wiley Price say Commissioners Court is the forum to discuss the D-A's budget but that hasn't happened.

Cantrell: We've always been very supportive. He's the one that's not a team player.

Price: He has not made one presentation. Not one. I mean stop the nonsense. As I said, either be a workhorse or decide you're going to keep playing and be a show horse.

Watkins renewed his objections to budget cuts in a recent six page letter to the Commissioners. Commissioner Cantrell says there's a big budget deficit and the D-A must cut 10% like everyone else, or the Commissioners will do it for him.

Email BJ Austin