Texas Governor Forms Disaster Recovery Commission

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has created the Governor's Commission for Disaster Recovery and Renewal, an advisory panel of 31 members. It is charged with creating a plan to assist Texas communities with recovery efforts after a natural disaster. Perry named Robert Eckels, a former top elected official of the state's most populous county, Harris County, to chair the commission. Its members will come from the private sector, foundations, and local and state government. With the elected chief executives from all of Texas' coastal counties serving as ex-officio members, the commission also is intended to send a message to Washington, D.C., which Perry underscored when he announced the commission.

"Two months after (Hurricane) Ike's landfall, Texans are still sleeping in cars or tents outside of padlocked trailers," Perry said Nov. 20. "Mounds of debris are piled up in coastal communities, creating health hazards while Washington remains mum about whether it will provide the same level of resources it did for Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. These situations clearly demonstrate that the federal government's recovery system is broken. I am confident this new commission will find solutions to these challenges, as well as create a plan to speed recovery and accelerate economic development."

The commission will write a report identifying critical elements to help communities fully recover from the effects of recent disasters. Due June 30, 2009, the final report will go to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

"This commission will be essential to securing the same degree of reimbursement that was awarded to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina," Perry said. "The notion that Texas should use its hard-earned surplus dollars to cover costs that fall under the federal government's responsibility is outrageous. The idea that Washington would shower 700 billion taxpayer dollars on mismanaged Wall Street firms, then penalize a state that has exercised tough fiscal discipline by leaving it to cover the bill of the costliest disaster in its history, is preposterous."

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