Texas Disaster Relief Shows States’ Interdependence
September 2, 2017
This week’s flooding in Texas devastated cities and displaced tens of thousands of people after Hurricane Harvey dumped over 60 inches of rain in just a few days.
Lives will be changed forever, some in smaller ways than others who have lost all their belongings and, more importantly, their homes.
As the recovery begins, resources from insurance companies, charities, cities, and the state will help rebuild lives in Texas back to as good, or even better, than before.
But, a large part of the recovery will be funded by the federal government and its agencies, including FEMA, the Coast Guard, and even the Department of Homeland Security.
This week, President Trump and congressional leaders pledged to approve federal recovery funding that could top the $60 billion approved by Congress after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005.
Federal support for states has become an integral part of the recovery of large disasters, including floods, earthquakes, fires, and, most notably, after the September 11 attacks in New York City.
Texas, however, has not always been quick to accept assistance from the federal government, especially when it comes to social programs like health care and education.
Texans have a long and proud history of rugged independence, stemming from its time as the only state to have ever been an independent nation before joining the United States.
The Republic of Texas existed as a sovereign country from 1836 to 1846, after the Mexican State of Tejas declared its independence from Mexico. For ten years, the small nation fought several small wars with Mexico over its disputed border. With its own president, vice-president, and congress, Texas even issued its own currency.
When Texas was annexed into the US as the 26th state, the new territory maintained its spirit of independence and adopted its Republic flag as its new state flag.
Over the years, Texas has started calls for secession from the United States when it’s been confronted with issues that rubbed against its traditional values, from immigration to education, to name a few.
Today, there’s an organization called the Texas Nationalist Movement that works to promote the idea of an independent Texas once again.
Based on the platform that Texas should maintain its unique culture, customs, and economy, the movement claims that the “interests of Texas supersede the interests of all other nations and states.”
Sure, each state thinks it’s the best place in the country to live, but Texas takes that pride to a whole new level.
What the movement ignores is that the interconnections and strengths of our entire nation help promote a more diverse economy, strong national defense, and huge financial support in times of regional need, like this week’s floods.
In reviewing the federal taxes paid by each state on a year-by-year basis, not all states receive the same percentage of federal dollars. On average, some states pay more in taxes than they receive in federal funds, and some pay less.
California, for example, only receives back about 90 cents per dollar of federal taxes sent to Washington. North Carolina, on the other hand, receives nearly $8 for each dollar paid.
Texas, for all of its threats to leave the Union, receives nearly 1.5 times more in federal funding than its residents pay in federal taxes.
A net gain in federal funds allows states to spend more of its own money on local programs, and also allows states to maintain lower state tax rates.
Federal dollars come in the form of military spending, highway construction, and even programs for food stamps and other subsidies.
In times of disasters, then, when the federal government steps in to help, its actually tax dollars from other states that are focused on affected areas, helping spread the financial burden across the country.
When federal funds were requested in response to Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey in 2013, a dozen Texas Congress members and both US Senators, including Ted Cruz, opposed the $51 billion aid package.
Now, it’s Texas asking for federal help from its brothers and sisters in other states. When lives are at stake, the specter of going it alone may seem much more daunting.
We are the United States of America, a union of separate, but coexisting populations of 50 diverse states. It’s that combination of strengths that make us stronger as a nation.
Let’s all pitch in to help our Texan brethren in the same way we would hope they would be there for us in a time of need in California.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Texas that need a lift in spirits, fortunes, and blessings.
God bless America.