HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Amid a celebration of millions of private dollars freshly available for Harvey-hammered small businesses, Texas Governor Greg Abbott unloaded the kind of welcome news that storm-battered Houston has been craving -- imminent federal funding, specifically earmarked to fully finance badly-needed flood protection for the future.
"It includes funding for the third reservoir, funding for the repairs needed for Barker and Addicks, funding for a project in Fort Bend County, funding for a project in northeast Harris County, funding for bayous in this region," said Gov. Abbott during a visit to Houston to announce a $7 million microloan program for small businesses impacted by Hurricane Harvey, "So the funding to rebuild Houston, the way people are talking about, needs to be done, that funding is there and we are literally weeks away."
Already approved by the House of Representatives, Gov. Abbott says he's been assured the U.S. Senate will approve the additional billions of dollars for Houston as part of a proposed $81 billion disaster relief package.
"I spoke with both Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz, who assured me that they are going to pass on the Senate side what the House passed," added Gov. Abbott.
With a hefty amount of storm victims claiming they're not getting the resources necessary to recover, Gov. Abbott has been under pressure to convene a special session of the Texas Legislature, specifically to unlock the state's $10 billion 'Rainy Day' fund. The Governor says that's not necessary because he and other key leaders have already leveraged the state's savings account to release emergency cash, most notably for the hundreds of Texas school districts impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
"So what the State of Texas obligated itself to do was pay both the schools that shut down as well as the schools that had increased attendance," said Abbott. "Some estimates are that it will take more than $1 billion. That money will be appropriated, most likely from the 'Rainy Day' fund."
Gov. Abbott said despite the horrific damage caused by Harvey, it's prudent to hold a substantial amount of the 'Rainy Day' fund in reserve given another hurricane season is five months away.