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Top Morning Stories May 27, 2011

Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon.
Wildfires destroyed property near Possum Kingdom Lake in mid-April. Gov. Perry is appealing the federal government's denial of a Major Disaster Declaration for the ongoing wildfires in Texas.

Governor Perry Appealing for Federal Wildfire Aid

Texas Governor Rick Perry has sent a letter to President Obama appealing the federal government's decision to deny the state a Major Disaster Declaration for this wildfire season.

"As Texas continues to be impacted by the worst wildfire season in recent memory, I urge President Obama to reconsider and approve our request for federal assistance in fighting these fires," Gov. Perry said. "Our federal government has an obligation to assist Texas in its response efforts. Texas will continue applying all resources available to fight these fires and I commend the brave men and women who continue to put their lives on the line to protect Texas families and property."

The declaration would make Texas eligible for more federal response and recovery assistance.  The federal government has already provided Texas some fire assistance grants.  Since the wildfire season began in November, the Texas Forest Service says fires have burned about 2.7 million acres.

State Budget Headed for Vote

Texas lawmakers are poised to vote this weekend on a state budget for the next two years.  The proposed budget is $172 billion. That’s about $15 billion smaller than the state’s current budget.  While state budget negotiators have agreed on an overall budget, they still haven’t reached agreement on school finance- how to distribute money to school districts. The regular legislative session ends on Memorial Day.

Appliance Sales Tax Holiday Weekend

If you've been thinking about buying new energy efficient appliances this may be the weekend to do it.  The state's having its fourth annual ENERGY STAR sales tax holiday.  The Texas Comptroller's Office has more details:

The ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday begins Saturday, May 28, and runs through Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. The tax savings apply to the following appliances and household equipment bearing the ENERGY STAR label: central or room air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less, refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less, ceiling fans, compact fluorescent light bulbs; clothes washers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and programmable thermostats

Gas Prices Down

Gas prices in Texas are down over a dime from last week- just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.  AAA Texas reports this morning the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is averaging $3.69 cents across the state.  Austin drivers are paying about $3.71. Gas prices are still about a dollar higher than they were during last year’s Memorial Day weekend.

Bad Weather Makeup Day

Not everyone is able to travel for the Memorial Day weekend.  The Austin Independent School District has class Monday.  AISD is making up for the snow day back in February.