Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appear to have ended their debate on how the state should use its more than $10 billion rainy day fund. and all it took was a check for $50 million.
Turner said the cleanup effort will likely cost $260 million and $26 million will go to Houston's bill for debris removal. He gave Turner a check and says they're on the same team as the tackle what may become the costliest disaster cleanup in US history. In a letter to Abbott sent Monday, Turner, a Democrat, asked the Republican governor to tap into the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the "Rainy Day Fund"), the $10 billion Texas savings account.
But on Tuesday, Abbott sharply declined Turner's request during a press conference, when he made the snide remark about the mayor's alleged motives and said Houston already had plenty of available funding sources to make post-Harvey repairs.
"The time to use the thrust of the Rainy Day Fund is when the expenses are known", Abbott said.
Turner had planned to raise property taxes for one year in order to raise $50 million for hurricane recovery, which would have cost the average Houston homeowner $48.
"We can not raid funds that the state has indicated can not be raided - and which are largely for drainage projects to prevent future flooding anyway", a spokesperson for Turner told the Houston Chronicle, rejecting assertions from Abbott and Patrick.
Councilman David Robinson, who had said he was open to a supporting the rate hike, also cheered Friday's announcement.
Turner initially had announced plans to enact an 8.9 percent tax rate hike, noting that a voter-imposed cap on property tax collections allowed him to propose a one-year exemption in the event of a federally declared disaster. This check does address some of those immediate concerns I would have been asking people in this city, many of whom have been directly impacted and are having to try to get back into their homes and repurchase furniture, to assume some of the sacrifice to rebuild this city.
"Another contractor came and had 250 trucks, and said, 'Mayor, we can join you and pick this up, but we can't do it for $11.69". "And I said, 'This is what the state of Texas is for and what we can do". It's not just Harris County. The state, however, through the Legislative Budget Board can redirect money from state agencies to recovery efforts, then reimburse that spending from the rainy day fund when the Legislature next convenes in January 2019. "If we're going to rebuild in a way that will protect both the Texas economy as well as the national economy, we need to be able to rebuild in a way that will prevent flooding and catastrophic damages like this in the future, and that will require Congress living up to what Sen". If the Texas economy is hit, the national economy is hit.
The $50 million is from the state's $100 million disaster relief fund. "It's a national issue".