Since my original post, there seems to have been some confusion over the exact budget numbers for Texas Forest Service and Wildfire Prevention/Fighting as enacted by the 82nd Legislature for the 2012-2013 biennium budget (which went into effect for Fiscal Year 2012 starting on September 1).
So I decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth.
I contacted my own State Representative, Larry Gonzales, who pointed me in the direction of Rep. John Otto, the legislative chairman for Article II of the state budget. One of his staffers was kind enough to get back to me with the following numbers.
It turns out that all the previous numbers were wrong, for various reasons. The numbers below all link to the official PDFs for the final budget numbers of the bills in question. And my liberal critics have, if not half a loaf, then at least a quarter-loaf.
The reason is that for the 2010-2011 biennium, the Forest service was allocated $54.5 million 2010 and $54.5 million for 2011. That amount was indeed reduced for the initial budget passed in the regular legislative session, to $37.7 million for 2012 and $37.5 million for 2013. But keep in mind that it was very clear that the budget was not finished at the end of the regular legislative session, as several outstanding issues (school funding, revenue enhancement, use or non-use of rainy day funds, etc.) still remained to be hashed out. That was why there was a special legislative session.
And in that special legislative session, two separate bills were passed which increased forest service/wildfire fighting and prevention funding: SB2, which added an additional $40 million to the forest service for FY 2012 specifically to fight wildfires (with any rollover, of which I’m pretty sure there will be none, to be carried into 2013), and HD4, which allocated an additional $81 million for fighting wildfires in the 2012-2013 biennium. (This is most likely where A&M got the $81 million figure for.) All those bills (and thus the funding increase) were passed and in the books months before the FY2012 budget started on September 1.
So, in summary:
Total 2010-2011 Biennium Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting Budget: $109 million.
Total 2012-2013 Biennium Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting Budget: $196.2 million.
So the Texas legislature authorized, and Governor Rick Perry signed, an 80% increase in wildfire fighting and prevention funding for the 2012-2013 biennium. Not quite double the amount I had in my original post, but pretty close.