Not that this is breaking news or anything, but Governor Good Hair Perry is a hypocrite and a liar. And a raging Tea Bagger, in deed if not words. I thought Rick Perry was advocating Texas secede? I guess he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions, all talk, no cattle, as the phrase goes.
Asked by a Dallas television reporter whether he agreed with Texas leaders that the federal government should take some governing cues from the Lone Star State, President Barack Obama said he saw “a little inconsistency” in that position.
“Keep in mind, Gov. (Rick) Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help,” Obama said during an April 18 interview with WFAA reporter Brad Watson at the White House.
The roughly $800 billion federal stimulus package, named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by Congress, became law in February 2009 after receiving only three Republican votes, all in the Senate. State governments were the primary recipients of the money, although funds have also gone directly to entities such as schools, hospitals and utilities.
The law specified that governors had 45 days after its passage to certify that their state would “request and use” the offered funds. On Feb. 18, 2009, Perry sent Obama the requisite letter of certification, assuring the president that the state would accept the funds and use them “in the best interest of Texas taxpayers.”
According to a February 2009 PBS News Hour online post, some stimulus money was meant “to help states avoid slashing funding for education and other programs that lawmakers could trim to offset shortfalls.”
Abrams, asked for backup for the president’s statement, pointed us to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which in turn sent us its July 2009 report on state budgets. According to the report, state budget-writing Texas lawmakers in 2009 were short $6.6 billion in revenue for 2010-11 and relied heavily on stimulus funds for a solution.
(click here to continue reading Barack Obama: “Gov. (Rick) Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help.” – Latest Barack Obama News – Barack Obama: 2008 US Presidential Candidate – Newsbeet.)
Given the fact that Texas will certainly break the record for the most acres of land that has ever burned, in state history, it is obscene that Texas Republicans — who control every level of state government, as they have for every year since 2003 — are planning to do this, according to KVUE news here in Austin, TX:
State funding for volunteer fire departments is taking a big hit. It is going from $30 million to $7 million. Those departments are already facing financial strains. The State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas represents 21,000 state firefighters. The Association says more than 80 percent of volunteer firefighters are reporting taking a personal hit in the budget crisis. They have started using their own money to help pay for equipment and supplies.
“We’ve seen budget cuts, but this is the worst time that we’ve ever seen,” said Executive Director Chris Barron. “As far as the budget crisis and the fuel cost stuff for example continues to go up and it doesn’t help us out any whatsoever, so with the rising fuel and the budget cuts from the state it’s taken a great effect. I think the citizens and the public is going to see that.”
Most of the State of Texas is protected by volunteer departments. There are 879 volunteer departments compared to 114 paid departments and 187 departments that are a combination of both paid and volunteer firefighters.
- 1.8 million acres of Texas land has burned, guaranteeing Texas will have the worst year for wildfires in recorded history
- So far this year local fire departments have saved over 10,000 structures from being burned
- There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas, compared to 114 paid departments and 187 that are a combination of both
- Texas Republicans have voted to cut funding for volunteer firefighters by over 75%.
By the way — Governor Perry’s solution for all of this was simple: pray.
(click here to continue reading Burnt Orange Report: While Texas Burns, Texas Republicans Could Cut Funds for Volunteer Firefighters by 75%.)
This straight from the “How is it we are not making this up?” files: Gov. Rick Perry has declared this weekend Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas. Well, that’s cheaper than coming up with real water policy. Obviously you are currently checking the date but, no, this is not a delayed April Fools story. It’s on his website.
In an accompanying statement, Perry said, “It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires.” What makes this particularly galling is when he goes on to ask Texans to pray for “the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state.” This would mean something if Perry’s people had not stood in the way of a measure that would have improved the safety of exactly those firefighters. It is not just that the current wildfires, which have destroyed over 1.5 million acres and killed two firefighters, are so huge: It is that Texas is increasingly building housing outside of cities. Unincorporated areas are very attractive to developers because there is usually lots of space and fewer regulations. However, there are also fewer hospitals, fewer police, and fewer firefighters. That means less equipment, fewer fire stations, and worse response times.
Texas had a chance to fix that two years ago, and Perry was at least passively part of the effort to squash that fix. Back in 2009, now former Travis County Democratic state rep Valinda Bolton authored House Bill 3477, a measure that would have allowed those hugely overstretched rural emergency service districts to hold short-term tax elections for desperately needed infrastructure. The sole purpose was to cut response times and give them a better chance to fight exactly this kind of fire. It is interesting to note that, when the accompanying House Joint Resolution 112 came up in committee, every witness spoke for the bill – except for Michele Greg of the Texas Apartment Association. Somehow, the bill still failed, and word at the time was that the governor’s office was pleased that even a vitally needed and broadly supported ‘tax’ bill sputtered out. If it had passed, then it would have given ESDs the ability to ask voters to give them more resources to fight wildfires in unincorporated areas. It would also have meant more infrastructure in place like Oak Hill, which was severely damaged by fire this weekend, when they are incorporated.
When asked about the bill’s demise last year, Perry said he did not know about the specifics. However, during the 2009 session it was pretty clear to everyone that HB 3477 was squashed as part of the general anti-tax, anti-public investment rubric coming out of his office. So now Perry’s solution to out-of-control wildfires caused by a massive and ongoing drought (ssssh don’t mention climate change) is prayer. Maybe we should be praying for longer hoses.
(click here to continue reading Perry Gonna Make it Rain – News Blog – The Austin Chronicle.)
With wildfire season gearing up out West, more tankers are expected to be available. A total of 18 air tankers are scheduled to be cycled in for use by mid-June, and four more military C-130s could also be called upon in an emergency.
Severe drought set the stage for these massive wildfires, but the intense winds and abundant shrubs that grew as a result of last year’s more plentiful rains stirred the pot for Texas and its surrounding areas (ClimateWire, April 21).
Texas State climatologist John Nielson-Gammon said that while the Texas fires themselves cannot be attributed to climate change, global warming likely sparked some of the conditions leading to the blazes.
“Global warming probably produced a slight enhancement of the rainfall, leading to a little extra plant growth,” he said. “Also, the warm temperatures during the past couple of months are probably a degree or two warmer than they would have been without the rise in global temperatures, thereby increasing the dryness,” he added.
(click here to continue reading Fighters From 43 States Battle Far-Flung Texas Wildfires – NYTimes.com.)
But, don’t forget, Obama is the culprit, not Rick Perry and his teabagger tendencies.
Wildfires have already ravaged nearly two million acres in Texas, and Perry is requesting federal help to pay for the emergency response, officials said. Spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said without the federal assistance, “we’re going to have to get pretty creative.” She said it has been about 10 days since the state requested federal disaster assistance and the governor, who has repeatedly bashed Washington, believes disaster response is one of the government’s “core functions.”
She said the state has estimated the cost of the response at $70 million. The state can pay 25 percent of that, or about $17.5 million, Cesinger added. Perry wants Uncle Sam to pick up the rest of it.
“We can’t afford ($70 milllion),” Cesinger said. “That’s why we asked them for help.”
(click here to continue reading Texas governor: Disaster could blow hole in budget – BusinessWeek.)
A federal major disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their response. Local departments and the Texas Forest Service have spent more than $60 million since Sept. 1 responding to wildfires, state forest service spokeswoman Linda Moon said.
“Governor Perry’s request is currently under review, and will continue our close coordination with the state as they work to protect their residents and communities,” FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said.
She said Texas has already received 22 grants to help pay fire management expenses this fire season, including 16 in April alone.
In the past, Perry has charged that the Obama administration is punishing Texas. The Republican governor has been an outspoken opponent of the federal health reform law, and the state is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a proposal to end Texas’ independent air quality permitting program for factories and refineries.
(click here to continue reading UPDATE 1-Governor says Obama leaving Texas in the dust | Reuters.)