UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The Texas senator who represents the community of Uvalde announced he’ll file a bill to create a $300 million fund that would go to the shooting victims’ families, the surviving students and others who are traumatized.
Democratic Sen. Roland Gutierrez said Wednesday he’ll introduce legislation later this month to start what he calls the Uvalde Victims Compensation Fund. Some of the victims’ loved ones surrounded him at a news conference, as he shared details about this proposal.
Gutierrez is up for re-election in Texas State Senate District 19. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed his opponent Robert Garza in the race.
“This isn’t about money for these families, and there’s not an amount of money that will ever bring their children back,” Gutierrez said. “But we have to set up this $300 million fund because it absolutely has to be punitive in nature. We have to know for ourselves that the state failed, and the state must admit that it failed.”
The legislation calls for giving $7.7 million to every household that lost someone in the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24. Gutierrez said he proposed that amount because it took law enforcement 77 minutes to finally breach the classroom and kill the gunman.
Additionally, the fund would provide $2.1 million to every student injured during the shooting, signifying the 21 victims killed in the massacre. Gutierrez said the proposal would also give up to $250,000 to anyone on the campus that day still dealing with trauma.
He told reporters that the state should use some of its $27 billion budget surplus to create this fund for the Uvalde victims. Abbott previously shared he intended to use that surplus for property tax relief if he’s elected to another term.
Gutierrez also addressed criticism that the state hasn’t created anything like this for those affected by other mass shootings in the past.
“In none of those other massacres did the police take 77 minutes to act,” he said. “The average mass shooting in the United States takes 10 minutes. That didn’t happen here.”
The news conference came a day after new 911 recordings came to light because of reporting from The Texas Tribune. The audio shows just how long police and dispatchers likely knew that children and teachers were in danger before taking action at Robb Elementary School.
It’s unclear how other lawmakers will feel about moving forward with such a bill during the session next year. KXAN reached out Wednesday afternoon to the governor’s office for comment about this proposal and is now awaiting a response.
Gutierrez said he will devote all of his legislative efforts to helping the Uvalde victims’ families and even promised to file an amendment to every bill so that ultimately this fund becomes a reality.
“This is absolutely the worst law enforcement response to any massacre in the United States,” he said. “The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety need to be held accountable, and they need to pay for their actions. We need to be punitive about it.”
Last week the victims’ families came to Austin to attend the Public Safety Commission meeting and called on Col. Steven McCraw, the DPS director, to resign. He responded by saying he would not go because he believed the state’s top law enforcement agency as an institution “did not fail the community — plain and simple.”