Politics

Abbott Refuses To Tap Rainy Day Fund To Help Houston Pay Cost of Harvey

Governor Abbott rejected a request from Mayor Turner, whom he accused of using the disaster as an excuse to raise property taxes.

Houston won’t get help from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to recover from Harvey. Governor Greg Abbott shot down a request by Mayor Sylvester Turner to tap the state’s $10 billion emergency reserve.

Mayor Turner wrote the governor that Houston has drawn on $20 million from its reserves to pay for damages from Harvey. But even with federal help, the city is still facing a bill of at least $50 million. Turner said without state aid, the city may need to raise property taxes to make up the difference.

Abbott gave his answer after meeting with lawmakers to discuss Harvey relief.

“He’s asking for certain payments by the state of Texas to the city which are unprecedented,” said Abbott. The governor said Turner has all the money he needs. “It raises a concern that the mayor seems to be using this as [a] hostage to raise taxes, when in reality the city of Houston is sitting on hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that he’s not tapping into.”

Houston has already held the first of three public hearings on Turner’s proposed property tax hike. The city council is scheduled to vote on the proposal next month.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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