The chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services said Wednesday that the states Rainy Day Fund should be tapped to help cover wildfire losses and expenses to rural fire departments that federal emergency funds will not cover. Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, said he would push for $40 million dollars to be made available from the emergency fund to assist fire departments, agencies and citizens impacted by the disaster.
Weve had the hearings. We know the need is critical and we know the bills are already duewhat we dont know is when well start seeing federal funds. Even when we get them, there could potentially be millions of dollars that wont be covered for fire departments, individuals and families affected by this crisis, said Rabon. The money is thereas I said before, if this isnt an emergency, I dont know what is.
Senator Rabon said he would call for a $2,000 stipend per fire department to cover costs. He also called for the creation of a disaster relief fund administered by the Office of Emergency management for non agriculture uninsured losses. The State Agriculture Department would administer relief funds for uninsured losses related to agriculture. After six months, remaining funds would be returned to the Rainy Day Fund.
If Gov. Brad Henry issues the emergency declaration to tap the Rainy Day Fund, it will take approval by two-thirds of each chamber. If the legislature acts without a gubernatorial declaration, it will take a three-fourths vote in favor of the action.
This is perhaps the worse natural disaster weve had in recent times in Oklahoma. If this is not worthy of Rainy Day consideration, then perhaps we need to revisit what the fund is for, Rabon said.