(Picture via QR)
It is said all the time that government budgets are moral documents and where we spend our money shows what we hold dear. It was clear during the recent budget debate what the majority in the legislature thought our priorities as a state were – protecting the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. And we’re starting to see the consequences of those decisions. This from McBlogger, Perry and the Republicans should be on the ground with a firehouse.
All of the fires around the state, especially here in Central Texas, are absolutely heartbreaking. While they were unavoidable (a drought is a drought), they could have been contained with less stress had Governor Perry and the Republicans not cut the budget so severely. The magnitude of the disaster (35,000 acres in Central Texas alone) is completely their fault.
Make no mistake, Perry started running for President back in the spring. Those draconian budget cuts, that STILL didn’t balance the budget without accounting gimmicks, included cuts to the Texas Forestry Service and rural fire departments. He did THAT rather than raise taxes on his sugar daddies, Bob Perry and Harold Simmons. As a result, billions of dollars in damage is being done all over the state.
This isn’t about politics… Perry wanted to be able to say he cut the budget. Those cuts had consequences and the people who’ve lost homes deserve better than silence. We’ve all wondered where the hell Perry was since last night and he only deigned to show up late today? That’s inexcusable. While he’s running for President, his state is on fire. Some leader, huh?
Once he did get back to Texas Gov. Perry then had the audacity to complain about the federal government (just like a whiny Republican, always blaming the government), Fed Up With Rick Perry.
That’s right, Tea Party favorite Rick Perry wants federal assets to come to his aid, and right quick. And in his opinion the fires need to be fought now and “I don’t care who owns the asset.” That’s funny. Not funny ha-ha, funny strange. Because it is completely obvious to anyone who is paying attention that Rick Perry totally cares about who owns the asset. American taxpayers do. We pay taxes, not enough of them, but we do, to buy, maintain and operate these assets. You can’t have it both ways. Perry can’t on the one hand whine about federal intrusion into state affairs, and then on the other whine when the feds are slow to act in intruding into state affairs.
And there’s something else I’m concerned about. Where in the US Constitution does it dictate that the federal government must spring to an individual state’s aid in times of natural disaster? Rick “Read the 10th Amendment” Perry should well-know that “rhe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
As far as I know, the US Constitution does not prohibit the States from fighting fires, so that power is reserved to the States. Were it not for the fact that the federal government goes out of its way to interfere and intrude on states that have suffered a natural disaster like fires, floods and earthquakes, this country would truly be a Libertarian Paradise where YOYO principles rule the day.
YOYO: You’re On Your Own.
So, yes, I am fed up, too. Fed up with Rick Perry.
Should the federal government help Texas out? Of course it should and it is. But because of the draconian budget cuts during the last legislative session, Texas now needs more help then it did before and it will cost more money, Wildfires Push State Resources to the Limit.
But something changed last week: the state started a new budget cycle. And the Forest Service lost about a third of its regular operating budget — almost $35 million over two years.
Local fire departments, volunteer and paid, are the first line of defense in wildfires. And budget cuts at the Forest Service are hitting them, too. The Texas Legislature cut almost $33 million from the service’s program that gives grants to local fire departments.
“It means that fire departments will not be able to purchase new wildland gear, it means they won’t be able to purchase protective clothing, trucks,” Chris Barron, chief of the Manchaca Volunteer Fire Department south of Austin, told KUT News.
Barron is also the executive director of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. He says cuts to that grant program will affect some departments’ ability to respond to future fires.
But more immediately, he said, “The Forest Service itself lost employees, and that means that there’s going to be fewer of them out there to help us.”
Ninety full-time positions were cut Sept. 1.
“That also means they’re going to have to call upon national resources to assist, which is quite expensive to be bringing people from California to assist with these incidents,” Barron said. “And you know the bills are not cheap.” [Emphasis added]
Just another expensive lesson learned about right wing politics. It’s always cheaper to pay now then pay later. We’re also likely to see these same kinds of consequences in the other areas where the budget was slashed, public education, health care, mental health, and on and on.
While state Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) tries to assure Texans that there will be enough money to fight the fires, state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) says that the legislature needs to see budgets as more than math problems, Perry’s stand against spending meant significant cuts to Forest Service.
“There will be plenty of time to consider the causes of this tragedy and different strategies that might have prevented it. However, it would be refreshing to see those in control – of the Capitol and of the budgeting process – express as much concern about preventing these tragedies before they take place as they do after land, property and possessions of Texans are lost,” Watson said.
“During the session, budget decisions are presented as little more than math problems. They’re presented as raw numbers, and the discussion ends as soon as those numbers balance – or even just appear to balance, by any means necessary,” Watson said. “Events such as these fires show these kinds of debates aren’t just about numbers. They’re about specific impacts on very real people and their lives. And I fear that even after these fires are extinguished, the impacts of this session will continue to resurface in tragic ways.”
Yes budgets are moral documents and those decisions have real world consequences. The legislature would do much better in the future if they considered the consequences of their decisions to the majority of Texans at least as much as they do the bank accounts of rich Texans.
Prayer as an adaptation strategy: Texas plans to cut budget of agency battling record wildfires.
Via KXAN, How to help .
From the Texas Forest Service, How to protect your home.