While officials are reporting they are making headway fighting Texas fires today, many in the liberal media are starting a blaze of their own attacking Texas Governor Rick Perry and the state leadership over firefighting budgets.
Quick to point out that Perry and company “slashed” the Texas Forestry Service (TFS) budget in 2011-2012 by $34 million, the slanted media is failing to mention the complete truth.
In reality, the state firefighting budget is at an all-time high, except for last year’s budget, when Perry and state leaders used 2009 stimulus dollars for a one-time surge fund to buy new equipment across the state.
The TFS is currently more equipped and prepared than any time in their history.
The TFS has more trained volunteer firefighters than ever.
ONE-TIME TEMPORARY SURGE IN BUDGET
This one time temporary surge was well known and communicated to be just that: a one-time effort to gain more resources and equipment for the TFS as funds became available. It was a one-time capital expenditure.
As of 11 a.m. today, the TFS indicate they have responded to 19 new fires, covering 1,500 acres, since Wednesday morning.
The most devastating, in Bastrop, appears to be “ 30-percent contained” with almost 800 homes destroyed.
Another 238 homes have been destroyed in other fires since Sept. 1.
Gov. Perry announced this morning that an elite search team has been activated to look for any remains at burnt homes in Bastrop County to find any possible casualties.
In 2002-2003 the TFS and Volunteer Firefighter Assistance Account appropriation budget was $43.5 million. In 2004 through 2008, records indicate the annual budget were $70.6, $72.4, and $75.2 million respectively.
The one-time increase for 2010-2011, secured and signed by Gov. Perry, was for capital acquisitions like new trucks, equipment, and uniforms.
The Volunteer Firefighter Service Account is included in the total Texas Forest Service appropriation.
$121 MILLION APPROVED FOR DISASTER COSTS
The Texas legislature traditionally makes supplemental appropriations to provide extra funds for unexpected costs related to disasters, including wildfires.
This year, the legislature approved $121 million in such spending of this sort.
“The threat of unpredictable natural disasters, like wildfires, is precisely why Gov. Perry insisted that Texas’ 2012-13 budget not include any spending from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which currently has an estimated balance of $6.5 billion,” said one observer.
“This sounds so much like the liberal media and all those others who praise Washington for all their wasted spending,” said Michael Coronado. “Their mentality is, forget one the one-time annual budget for good purposes, but just continue to ignore and count it toward a new baseline so they can continue to waste dollars are their pork and entitlement spending.”
FOCUSED ON PROTECTING TEXANS’ LIVES
“Right now, we’re focused on protecting Texans’ lives and getting these fires under control,” Perry Spokesman Lucy Nashed said today. “The state has been and will continue to provide the Texas Forest Service and local officials with all available resources to fight these fires.”
“The Legislature has provided state agencies the flexibility to address some emergencies in their regular budgets,” Nashed continued. “The governor also will seek a major federal disaster designation for these wildfires and, if approved, will provide additional financial resources to cover some of the costs of responding to this disaster.”
During Gov. Perry’s proclamations earlier this year, declaring parts of Texas as official disaster areas to set in motion requests for federal aid for wildfires, he also sent a letter in April to President Obama requesting a Major Disaster Declaration.
Texas Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson lashed out at the Obama Administration when they denied the request on May 3 in a joint letter.
“It is paramount that the State and localities receive the vital resources and funding required to fully support their work,” said Cornyn and Hutchison.
Fighting fires “has imposed a tremendous physical and financial strain on all involved,” the senators noted. “The importance of reducing this burden cannot be overstated.”
OBAMA’S POLITICAL VENDETTA AGAINST TEXAS SUGGESTED
At the time Perry was chastised by many in the liberal press for complaining that Obama had quickly declared Alabama a disaster area when tornadoes tore into that state, but practically ignored Texas suggesting that Obama’s administration continued a political vendetta against Texas.
Perry appealed the president’s decision on May 26, and finally received partial approval of relief on July 1.
Last night Obama called Perry to inform him federal resources were indeed coming.
Certified firefighting volunteers from around the state arrived in Central Texas this week but were sent away by as federal officials arrived to take over command Tuesday.
“They said we had to leave, after I came all the way from West Texas to help my fellow Texans,” said Mark Holbrook. “They said local officials, who were busy PUTTING OUT FIRES and SAVING PEOPLES LIVES, had not made a formal request for volunteers to the federal government.”
The local newspaper, the Gonzales Cannon, reported that one agent from the U.S. Forest Service told the group “If you don’t have a vehicle that squirts water, go home,’” according to Gordon Greer of Kirbyville, ”who drove all night Monday to arrive in the town beset by the worst wildfire in Texas history. “You’ve got guys who had driven all night long from Corpus Christi and Brownsville on their own dime, and they turned them away. He was really a (bleep) about it.”
“I’m still ticked off at Obama and his so called administration for giving us a thumbs down on help earlier this year, even after Governor Perry declared nine times we were in a state of disaster,” said Leon Waters, another volunteer who had driven “over 300 miles on my own money to help out.”
SACRIFICING LIVES TO PULL RANK
Daniel Miller of Nederland, who was with a group of Beaumont area certified firefighters, said the federal support group was “willing to sacrifice the lives of the people of Bastrop just so they can come in here and pull rank.”
The State Emergency Management Department is run by San Antonio’s Nim Kidd, who as acting Chief updates Texas Governor Rick Perry and his staff repeatedly.
“The governor is urging all Texans to closely monitor conditions and reports, and heed all warnings from local officials as extremely dry and windy conditions are expected to continue fueling wildfires that continue are raging across the state” a news release by the Governor’s office noted.
“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property,” Perry stated. “I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state.”
FOUR PEOPLE KILLED
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the first responders who are working around the clock to keep Texans out of harm’s way, and with the families across our state who are threatened by these wildfires,” Perry continued.
Perry has released Texas Military Forces, with two CH-47 Chinook Aircraft and two UH-60 Blackhawks from Austin to fight central Texas fires, two UH-60 Blackhawks in San Antonio assisting with the fires in Colorado County, and three ground wildfire support packages including four dozers and 16 personnel each;
The Texas Department of Public Safety has deployed emergency management personnel, highway patrol troopers, air assets and a mobile communications center to Bastrop County. The Texas Department of Transportation is joining forces by providing personnel, equipment, and fuel to responders.
A network of fire departments known as Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS), is beginning to provide emergency resources to neighboring communities. Their active resources include 13 command vehicles, 50 fire engines and 121 personnel.
Four people have been reported killed in the fires.
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