Texas leaders are seeking more---a lot more---from the federal government when it comes to Hurricane Harvey relief. Weeks after state officials sent a letter to Congress requesting nearly $19 billion in additional hurricane relief funds, Gov. Greg Abbott went to Washington D.C. this week to ask for nearly $61 billion in funding for various rebuilding projects in the aftermath of Harvey. The latest request includes funding for new reservoirs, flood-control infrastructure, buyouts for homes and businesses impacted by flooding, and even the"Ike Dike" project to protect the Texas coast from storm surges.
Gov. Abbott acknowledges that the funding package may be a tough sell on Capitol Hill. "They're dealing with multiple disasters to respond to---there is (Hurricanes) Nate, Irma, Maria, and in addition to that there's California (wildfires)," Abbott told reporters. "And so they are having to balance a lot of funding requests that are extremely large." Indeed, some members of Congress reportedly expressed surprise this week at the size of Abbott's funding proposal.
For his part, the governor believes the Texas request is careful and specific. "We have provided documented needs for them, and especially make clear that this is going to be funding that in the long run will aid in reducing the amount of money the federal government will have to write checks for in the future," says Abbott.
The billions requested from the federal government are meant to augment what the state is already paying for Harvey relief. "The state of Texas has already advanced money and will continue to advance money from next biennium's budget, that will be coming out of the rainy day fund," says Abbott. He notes that the state doesn't want to deplete the rainy day fund over one event, no matter how historic. "It's important on the rainy day fund, that we remain prepared and vigilant for similar episodes next summer," says Abbott. "We're only months away from the next hurricane season."