He has nothing constructive to offer, that’s for sure.
One of the top Republicans leaders in the Texas Legislature is slamming the city of Houston and other local governments for trying to raise taxes on homeowners in the name of hurricane recovery.
And he’s certain the increase will provoke a response of some sort from the Legislature.
“I don’t understand this mindset,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, said. “It’s callous.”
He said homes have been flooded and damaged, and local governments’ first reaction appears to be raise taxes on those same people even though local officials have emergency funds and federal aid is on the way.
“It’s beyond tone deaf,” said Bettencourt, who is the chairman of the Senate’s Republican caucus. “I don’t believe governments should be showing this type of attitude when people are down.”
But Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office said they are left with few other choices. The city already dipped into its emergency funds and while they are getting federal help, they city is still left with 10 percent of the debris removal costs, said Alan Bernstein, communications director for Turner.
“So how’s it going to get done?” Bernstein asked if the city doesn’t get additional revenue to pay for it all.
Happy thoughts and pixie dust, I guess. You will note that Bettencourt does not even mention the possibility of using the Rainy Day Fund to help cover these costs. At this point, I have no idea what someone like Bettencourt thinks that fund is for. It’s clearly not for its intended purpose of economic stabilization during a downtown, and now it’s equally clear that he doesn’t think it’s for the Rick Perry-stated purpose of covering disaster costs. Nor does he offer any other suggestion as to what local governments could do, probably because saying things like “not pay their employees or contractors for the work they will need to do, and not invest in any form of flood mitigation” is probably something even he realizes would be unwise. That leaves doing nothing, and maybe finding a convenient scapegoat for one’s own inaction. The word for that is “craven” – I would accept “cowardly”, too – and it’s a perfect fit for Paul Bettencourt.