Note: My numbers below are somewhat off…but those of critical commentators are also off. See this post for the complete breakdown of Texas Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting and Prevention Funding. The bottom line is that it was increased by 80%.
You may have noticed several fires breaking out in Central Texas due to the prolonged drought and high winds. You may also have noticed liberals crowing about how the latest Texas budget cut wildfire response by 50%. That would indeed seem to be shortsighted, except for one tiny fact:
It isn’t true.
Evidently the myth arises from pieces like this one from earlier in the year, citing unnamed sources in the midst of budget negotiations saying such a cut was proposed. Not passed, mind you, but proposed. And it doesn’t say by who.
But when you look at the actual numbers for the passed budget, they tell a radically different story.
First, let’s look at funding for the 2010-2011 biennium passed by the 81st Legislature, where the Texas Forest Service was allocated $38,550,563, most of which was for wildfire fighting and prevention.
Next let’s look at the 2012-2013 biennium passed by the 82nd Legislature; sorry, I was only able to find a PDF, but the relevant information can be found near the top of page 15, where it states that the legislature allocated $81 million for the Texas Forest Service for wildfires.
So not only did the Texas state legislature and Governor Rick Perry not reduce the amount for wildfire fighting and prevention, they actually doubled the amount spent on it.
So a real natural tragedy is being used by opportunistic liberals to slander politicians (and let’s face it, a state) that they already hated. The original Think Progress etc. pieces were merely half-baked rumor. Repeating them today, however, makes them an actual lie.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts.
Edited to add: The Texas State Fiscal year starts on September 1st, so the state is operating under the 2012-2013 biennium budget now.