From today’s Statesman: In the Texas Department of Public Safety’s proposed budget for the next two years, officials warn that if they must reduce spending by 15 percent, a high-profile public registry of sex offenders will have to go away. No more website, no more postcard notifications to neighbors, the budget document states, even though one of the agency’s goals listed in the budget document is to “enhance public safety.” The savings would be just over $3 million of the $28 million the state’s police force would have to cut from its $2.7 billion two-year budget, DPS accountants reported. DPS is now saying that this was a mistake, but I wonder if it wasn’t a variation on a hoary budgetary ploy known as “firemen first.” Whenever a government agency is threatened with a budget cut, it says that it will have to cut firemen, or police, or some other function closely connected with public safety that will cause the public to go bananas. If DPS is looking for something in the neighborhood of $3 million to cut, may I offer a suggestion? How about the rider authorizing an expenditure of $4,284,032 for a helicopter to be stationed in Longview, plus $300,000 a year to operate it. They don’t need to spend that money any more. As of January, Mr. Merritt will no longer be with us.