Texas Governor criticizes federal government for not giving the state enough money to fight fires

Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday criticized the United States government for not approving quickly enough a request he put in to FEMA for federal funds to assist the firefighting effort in Texas. Perry requested a federal disaster delcaration two weeks ago and said yesterday “You have to ask, ‘Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?’ I know our letter didn’t get lost in the mail. There is a point in time where you say, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?”

A federal disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their firefighting response.

Governor Perry has not been on the best of terms with the federal government. Several times he has flirted with the concept of Texas seceding from the United States. President Obama said last week during an interview with a Dallas TV station, “Governor 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 told WFAA, referring to 2009 federal stimulus funds.

Currently firefighters from 35 states, many of them federal firefighters, have traveled to Texas to help Governor Perry and the citizens of Texas with their fires. In addition, two Type 1 Incident Management Teams and one Type 2 Incident Management Team from outside the state, as well as four military MAFFS air tankers, are assisting the state of Texas.

Federal government has given over $39 million in fire grants to Texas

During the 2009 and 2010 award periods, the federal Department of Homeland Security through FEMA awarded $39,747,075 to Texas fire departments and state organizations for firefighting, through the Assistance to Firefighter Grants, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants, Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, and Fire Station Construction Grants. That dollar amount does not include complete data for two of the grant programs (FP&S and FSC) which have not yet provided their information for the 2010 grant application period. In 2009 those two grant programs gave a total of $4,339,014 to Texas.

A couple billion dollars in the Texas rainy day fund

At the Texas Emergency Management Conference yesterday, the governor said: “If you hit Houston with a Category 4 or 5 (hurricane), and we’ve only got a couple billion dollars in the rainy day fund, instead of going in and rebuilding and recovering, we’re talking about bankruptcy,” Perry said. “That’s the choice that we have here.”

It’s “raining” fire in Texas, but Governor Perry would rather use tax money generated by the other 49 states, than tap into his rainy day fund. If Texas secedes from the United States, I wonder if the state will then request Foreign Aid.

UPDATE at 11:30 a.m., May 5, 2011:

More information about this can be found here, including the fact that Texas has received 25 FEMA grants for wildfire assistance so far this year.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

22 thoughts on “Texas Governor criticizes federal government for not giving the state enough money to fight fires

  1. The Federal Fire Fund is the pot of money that federal agencies tap into when there is a fire on federal lands (US Forest Service, National Parks, etc). States can establish fire numbers in this system that are routed to the Federal Fire Fund for payment, with the states reimbursing the federal government for the states’ costs. This allows federal firefighters to collect their pay, even though the state eventually has to pay up their bill to the federal government.

    The word on the street is that the state of Texas owed the Federal Fire Fund/US Forest Service’s Albuquerque Service Center about $75 million at the beginning of this fire season. That would be $75 million that they have owed for past fire seasons, like an interest free loan…

  2. Quite confusing. Firstly, I am sorry for the people affected by fire. However, this is the man who said Texas needed no help from the government and was thinking about seceding from the union. Now he comes crying. Some people need to learn to think before they speak.

  3. Texas governing officials need to get their poop in a group here. What about the April 23rd article here on this website where their legislature is considering cutting state fire funds by 30%? But then they want the feds to keep sending cash their way? Come on Texas, pull your own load.

  4. Texas. It’s like a whole other country, except when it comes to asking for federal aid.

  5. i don’t understand the 23 of April they want to cut fire funds, then on the the 29 of april your state turns to the feds and begs them for money.I thought they wanted to leave the USA? Is this how it is done?
    In my state we reward things that work and protect the homes of the pepole.they say things are bigger in Texas i geuss they are right.

  6. Excuse me, Lorne Marr and others making catty remarks on this website. i live in the very area of Palo Pinto county wher almost 200,000 acres were burned and hundreds of homes were lost. There is a difference in socializing an entire nation with socialized medicine, and a state borrowing money to out itself into debt with a communist thinking government, and a state needing help due to disaster. The USa helps other nations continually when disasters hit. shame on Barack Obama for punishing Texas and not giving disaster help when needed. This slight on teh part of our federal government is a deliberste ploy of Obamas to force people into what he wants, into his socialist government which makes all indebted to his communist thinking. Anyone who would criticise a state needing help when it comes to disaster , is a jerk. i sat in my home and watched fire loom on the horizon. it was frightening. Dont ever criticize when they are in a state of disaster, and need help. Lorna Marr you dont feel sorry for people who are destroyed by fire or you would not have made the insensitive, assinine remarks you made.

    • This web site will not devolve into politics, but it bothers me when people throw around the terms “communism” and “socialism”, making accusations without knowing what they mean.

      Communism is a sociopolitical movement that aims for a classless and stateless society structured upon common ownership of the means of production, free access to articles of consumption, and the end of wage labor and private property in the means of production and real estate.

      Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are publicly or commonly owned and controlled co-operatively, or a political philosophy advocating such a system. A primary goal of socialism is social equality and a distribution of wealth based on one’s contribution to society, and an economic arrangement that would serve the interests of society as a whole. As an economic system, socialism is the direct allocation of capital goods (means of production) so that production is carried out for use, directly meeting economic demand, and accounting is based on some physical magnitude such as physical quantities or a direct measure of labour time.

      Mark, everyone is sorry for the loss of property that the residents of Texas experienced, but the hypocrisy is staring the other 49 states in the face when the governor of Texas is flirting with the idea of seceding from the United States of America, and then asks that same American government to pay 75% of the state’s firefighting costs, while $2 billion sits in Texas’ “rainy day fund”. And, while cutting by 30% the funding for the Texas Forest Service’s Wildfire and Emergency Program.

      The federal government has already approved many emergency declarations for individual fires this year in Texas. What has not happened, is an approval by the federal government of approving the entire state as being in a state of emergency, as requested by the governor, Rick Perry.

      • Well said, Bill: if Gov Perry had not made secessionist comments earlier this year, none of this discussion would have had to occur. Fires, and the damages they cause, are generally apolitical. It’s only when we (politicians, media, citizens) enter the scene does the issue become politicized. Perry doesn’t like a lot about the US except when it can help ease his financial burden on the backs of those of us from the other 49 States. In my judgement, the comments offered about his hypocracy are well deserved and on-target.

  7. The status of Texas is not the same as the status other states.
    Texas is the only state that was an independent nation before it joined the USA. It joined by treaty and reserved for the state the option to withdraw from that treaty and the option to divide itself into 5 states. The unique status of Texas as a former independent nation is also why the Texas flag is the only state flag that is flown at the same height as the US flag.

    • Great – but they still want my tax dollars for their wildfires. Play by the same rules as the other 49 do, or withdraw fron the Union and pay your own fire bills.
      Seems like most of our Native American tribes were “independent nations” before the Europeans arrived in North America too.

  8. Ca. and texas both have about the same fire danger. ca is higher I guess. look at the resouses maintaned by the state? this off Cal fires site
    In support of its ground forces, the CAL FIRE emergency response air program includes 23 Grumman S-2T 1,200 gallon airtankers (one is kept as maintenance relief), 11 UH-1H Super Huey helicopters (two are kept as maintenance relief, and 14 OV-10A airtactical aircraft (one is kept as maintenance relief). From 13 air attack and nine helitack bases located

    Could Texas have anything like that? Ca has spent the $$$ up front. We call the air gard last, after the 747 and the dc-10 are in the air. we like having a strong first response…..

  9. I hope the US Goverment keeps there stand on this and Texas does pull out from the Unioin. This is crazy, cut 30% from the budget when you have 2 billion in a rainy day fund? How about making the Big oil corps pay for some of the costs.

  10. All I have to say is….welcome to the Club. As a neighbor to the north in Oklahoma we deal with similar fire and conditions. Our budget is slim to none.

  11. gosh i’d love to help but we are broke. we have to stop all of this crazy fed spending!churches will help! free enterprise will devise a plan!

  12. It is the federal governmetn’s responsibility by law to help United States citizens in the face of disaster. Taxas are collected from USA citizens for disaster purposes such as fire. i hate to tell you stupid people who are bashing Rick Perry and Texas, but Texas is still psrt of the United States, the state has not left the USa, and in fact, Perry said on a few occassions that there is no reason for Texas to leave. I am sick of seeing people on different internet sites saying that people in Texas want Texas to leave the nation anyway, so why help Texas? The USA gives disaster aid to other nations all the time, why not a state in our own nation? Because Barack Obama resents Rick Perry and resents a lot of people in Texas who are not for his policies. This was deliberate on Barack’s part, just as others have said. Obama did not even pay a visit to Texas, as he did Alabama and other states. Shame on our federal governmetn for mkmistreating it’s citizens in this manner. Shame on the ugly people writing hateful opinions on this site about Perry and Texas citizens when people in Texas have lost so much due to these horrible fires, which are still not completely out as I write this letter. . I hurts me when i see people on the news who have lost everything they own due to these fires, have no money to replace what they have lost. And the federal govermetn is now refusing to help them. Many of these people are very poor. Shame on those who have nothing better to do with their hateful lives and no better scruples than to bash people who are in a terrible state of emergency, i have relatives who live in Palo Pinto County where the worst of ths fire disaster happened. No matter what Rick Perry may have said in the past, this was no excuse for an entire state to be shunned for disaster help as Texas has been. Next time there is a desaster in a another country, let the USa say we will not help that country, and see how bad the USa looks to the rest of the world. If the United States did just that, the rest of the world would have a horrible opinion of the USA.That is exactly how our federal goverment now looks for not helping the people of Texas. If the federal govermetn will treat Texas citizens this way. it will treat any other citizen this way.

  13. i posted this not to be mean just a statment of facts. some states protect their citizens beter then others. This is done before the fire starts. this is done by adds taken out on fire provention. Having fire trucks and aircraft able to responed on the first day of a fire to keep it small.
    Texas has fires every year what has Texas done to protect Texas?
    we had a brush fire the other night we had 3 helicopters on it at night. it was out in 3 hours. Ca treats its Citizens well and we pay for it in taxes, we suport our fire departments. Just a choice we made as a state.

  14. How disheartening to read the post of so many who I am sure do not know all the facts of the wildfire situation in Texas. Our local volunteer fire departments are working around the clock to assist many counties in West Texas save homes, lives and livestock from the devastation of these wild fires. These fire departments have suffered tremendously from this devastation with huge repair bills and loss of trucks. So, if you don’t think it’s a disaster you do not understand the magnitude of $$$ lost in these fires including the miles of fenceline and land burned up. Houses, barns and livestock destroyed reach millions. For our local volunteer fire departments these losses are extreme and will take years to recover from. We spend years fund raising to have sufficient equipment to fight these fires and this devastation is heart wrenching to Texas residents. Shame on you who are pounding Texas for this disaster.

  15. West Texas;
    I am sorry for your loss, the part time fireman have done well, and deserve your thanks. Bless them for their sacrifice. Could you imagine if the state of Texas was behind them before the fire? If the Martin Mars/ DC-10 (pilot lives in OK) or the 747 with its quick response was there on day one? What a difference it would have made. A difference in lives and property lost. If there was a fully trained firefighting team with helicopters in place? We need to support the teams that protect us before the fire. We can see where the pepole of Texas stand and where the goverment of Texas stand. The USA hopes you the best.

  16. I am surprised Governor Perry is asking for federal funds because last year he was advocating Texas leave the union of states. Does hypocrecy come to mind?

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