Harvey-Hit Cities Want State Rainy Day Funds. Greg Abbott Wants To See Cost Estimates First.

May 17, 2018

From Texas Standard.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is seeking more money for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, and he’s asking Gov. Greg Abbott to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to pay for it. The governor says Houston has access to $50 million, of which the city has used only $5 million. And now there’s a war of words between Turner and other local officials seeking funding and Abbott.

Mike Ward, Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, says Houston and other jurisdictions affected by Harvey have not applied for federal funds that are available, and that they should do so, rather than asking the state for help.

Local officials, including Turner, say they’re seeking what’s called “hazard mitigation money” to fund projects that would prevent damage from future Harveys, should they strike.

“These counties and the cities – a number of them – are struggling to come up with detailed plans to actually do the hazard mitigation projects, and to come up with cost structures that they can then submit to the state and the feds for these grants,” Ward says. “The friction is developing because the local officials want to get these things moving now, and the state’s saying ‘we don’t even know how much some of this stuff is going to cost, so how can we open the rainy day fund?’”

Abbott has said he’s open to funding some hazard mitigation projects from the rainy day fund, but he wants to know how much money is needed.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.