151 Band

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Step One: Declare State of Emergency

Step Two:  Request federal disaster funds.

It's a familiar story...Oklahoma experiences horrific weather and devastation and the immediate response is to apply for federal funds to help with recovery efforts.  A very heated discussion erupted yesterday when this was first mentioned, and the discussion must continue - by necessity.

It is a fact that Oklahomans pay federal taxes and those taxes are used to provide aid in some instances during catastrophes.  The tornadoes we experienced yesterday cost 7 lives and millions of dollars of damage so, yes, in this case it is probably very justified to see requests for federal assistance.

But it is, to me, a matter of principle.  The state of Oklahoma has funded some pretty interesting things over the last year - including over $50k just to allow the legislature to have an online video presence.  Whether it be a good thing or a bad thing is yet to be determined, but most of us when faced with revenue shortfalls, don't go out and spend money on a flat screen plasma television set, do we?  How about the funding of endowed chairs for our institutions of higher learning?  Is that really a necessary role of government at this stage of the game when we're talking about laying off highway patrol officers to meet the budget shortfalls?  I think not.

The Oklahoman (read the story here) makes my case for me (emphasis mine):
Today's executive order is the first step toward seeking federal assistance.
The state Emergency Management Department officials also are making preliminary damage assessments to determine the damage caused by Monday's storms.