has about a month to go in its every-other-year legislative session and one of
the big issues on the docket is storm preparedness, namely trying to ensure
that if another Hurricane Harvey hits, the state won’t take as much of a
pounding as it did last time around.
President Donald Trump, accompanied
by first lady Melania Trump, holds up a Texas flag after speaking with
supporters outside Firehouse 5 in Corpus Christi, Texas, uesday, Aug. 29, 2017,
, where he received a briefing on Harvey relief efforts. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
part of that debate, the Texas Senate is proposing appropriating $1.8 billionto storm preparedness measures like
“harden[ing] public and private structures so they can better withstand
future storms,” but also to funding “grants and low-interest loans…
for projects that may not be eligible for federal funding” and “the
so-called ‘local match’ [communities] must send to the federal government
before it will release billions more dollars to repair storm-battered
Texas House meanwhile is proposing dropping $4 billionon these efforts.
seems both chambers want voters to ultimately have the say on whether the money
is actually spent.
just to be clear, whether it’s $1.8 billion or $4 billion, this is a lot of
money, and some of it will inevitably be spent on local pork projects rather
than actually making Texas more storm-resilient.
addition, it may not be a full solution to the problem Texas is trying to fix–
and that problem’s continued existence may end up costing Texas taxpayers more
dearly in years to come, even if the Texas House’s big $4 billion price tag is
what’s ultimately agreed upon.
separate example can be found in Laredo, where there’s currently a proposal still
being weighed to allow a toxic waste dump to be built in the middle of a
floodplain because that’s what the property owner wants to do with his land.
is all well and good, and a libertarian dream– except that all three of these
instances underline that such a strong commitment to unencroachable property
rights and such a vigorous “keep it local,” anti-regulation attitude
seems to be resulting in some pretty big sums about to be appropriated to deal
with results of what happens when you just leave it up to property owners: They
build properties that are not as durable as they should be, they resist
measures a lot of Americans and fellow Texans see as inherent to maintaining
national security, and they try to do possibly unsound things with their land
like install Mexican toxic waste dumps, all of which can easily wind up costing
antithetical for conservatives to argue for big regulation and willy-nilly use
of eminent domain. But it’s not necessarily antithetical for conservatives to
say that if Texas communities and individual property owners want access to
troughs of cash to pay for recovery when bad stuff happens and the effects are
predictably horrible, they need to take steps upfront to ensure that the damage
won’t be so severe in the first place. That probably does mean establishing
building codes or, where they exist, ensuring they’re not complete weak sauce.
It also probably means Texas leaders stepping in, if needs be, to say building
toxic waste dumps in floodplains– especially in the aftermath of Harvey– is a
alternative is Texas being pressured to do these big appropriations, which will
eventually embolden and strengthen those arguing for a progressive income tax
system, and move Texas policy much further to the left– where it may be going
anyway, thanks to demographic changes and Democrats spending lots of money to
try to turn the state purple. Check out thisfrom Axios today if you’re not sure about the
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