As our state continues to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, I am reminded of an article from 5-years ago I wrote regarding the state’s Disaster Relief Fund. The issue of the state’s DRF came up last night in the gubernatorial debate.
In the three years leading up to Hurricane Irene, Governors Easley and Perdue raided the state’s Disaster Relief Fund to the tune of $65 million. From the 2011 article:
As the clean up from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene in late August continues, victims may be shocked to learn that the state’s disaster relief funding was largely drained by elected officials in several short-sighted attempts to avoid sensible reductions in state government.
During a recent Senate Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Response meeting, government officials said the state’s Disaster Relief and Reserve Fund currently stands at only $4 million….
Documents obtained from Fiscal Research and the state Controller’s Office reveal that budget writers raided a total of $65 million from the Disaster Relief Reserve Fund for reasons clearly outside the Fund’s designated purpose…
The first such transfer was authorized in the FY 2008-09 state budget. The onset of the economic recession and the resulting dip in revenue had state budget writers in a panic. In order to avoid making long-overdue and sensible reductions to the rapidly expanding state budget – and to avoid any actions that may alienate a core fundraising base of state employees – state budget writers raided several state trust funds for millions of dollars to transfer to general operation expenditures. The largest of those transfers was $26 million from the Disaster Relief Reserve Fund.
But Perdue was not yet satisfied. Just before the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year, new governor Perdue ransacked another $9 million from the Disaster Relief Reserve Fund on June 24, 2009 to help balance the budget while limiting any spending reductions.
The remaining $30 million transfer from the Fund took place in early 2011 and marked yet another case of Perdue favoring her pet interest groups at the expense of future disaster victims.
Read the full article here to be reminded how fiscally irresponsible and careless previous administrations had been with the state’s disaster relief funds.