State representative David Simpson filed a budget amendment late last week that would have made sure money allocated for volunteer fire departments is actually used for that reason.
His proposal would have taken money from the Texas Commission on the Arts, but it was voted down. Simpson told KTRH he is stunned.
“It was incredible to me that they chose to make these other programs a greater priority over volunteer firemen,” Simpson said.
Simpson says the fire departments are still trying to recover from the wildfires of 2011.
“Their resources have not been replenished. They are trying to get prepared for the next fire season. Clearly, to me, you save the burning house and protect life and property,” Simpson explained.
Amy Barbee is the executive director of Texas Cultural Trust and says Simpson should not have asked his colleagues to make this kind of decision.
“It should never be a choice. The state needs both, because both are extremely viable and critical to the health, safety and welfare of the state,” Barbee said.
However, Barbee says the choice lawmakers made at the end of the day was the right one.
“I think they made a strong statement. They believe the arts are important to our state,” Barbee stated.
Simpson's amendment would have given those volunteer fire departments about $6.5M. He says he will continue to try and make sure that money allocated in the state budget is used properly.