Ask and you shall receive. But be specific.
That was the message Gov. Greg Abbott wanted to send Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the people of his city on Friday.
The two Texas leaders had been trading verbal and written jabs for at least a week, but they put their disagreements aside for a joint news conference to discuss disaster recovery efforts.
And by the time the amicable event was over, Turner was happily grasping a $50 million check, freshly inked by the governor.
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The $50 million is from the state’s $100 million disaster relief fund.
It was the sum sought by Turner to help cover immediate expenses Houston has incurred since Hurricane Harvey ravaged its neighborhoods and flooded its downtown.
Without the money, Turner said he would need to increase city property taxes on a temporary, emergency basis. That increase would amount to around $48 per homeowner, a small sum, but one that would be hard to absorb for those affected by storm.
Turner said as much in a letter to the governor, arguing that if ever there was an event that qualified for tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund, Harvey — and its 50 inches of rain — was it.
Abbott never ruled out the possibility. In fact, he conceded that the state would need to dip into the Rainy Day Fund, but not yet.
The governor didn’t change course on Friday. “The time to use the thrust of the Rainy Day Fund is when the expenses are known,” Abbott said.
He has a point. The Rainy Day would cover only a fraction of the state’s recovery effort, so it needs to be used wisely.
But it must be readily available, and a special session would be the best way to do that. Abbott kept that option open on Friday. Good.
Turner knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, but he and other state leaders should continue to push Abbott to tap the Rainy Day Fund as recovery costs become clearer.
The good news is that Abbott appears to be listening.