The following is a transcript of an interview with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, which aired Sunday, February 21, 2021 on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We think we’ve solved that technical problem in Texas and now we can move on to Betsy Price, Mayor of Fort Worth. Hello to you, Madam Mayor.
FORT WORTH MAYOR BETSY PRICE: Hello, MARGARET. Hope we fixed the problem. It’s a perfect storm, no pun intended.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m – I’m glad we’re talking now. Republicans have been in charge of Texas and the energy system by default for years. After this week’s power outages, what do you think needs to be changed? Do you trust the state to manage the network?
MAYOR’S AWARD: Well I think the citizens depend on their local leaders to insist that we get answers and we are going to demand those answers from the state because the state runs the power grid and we are the ones who we took care of the problems on the ground. So, yes, they are going to have to find solid answers and solutions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think the state should keep control? I mean, I – I was looking at this and the majority of the ERCOT board members, the power grid operator, the board members don’t even live in the state of Texas. Are they in touch with what is going on? I mean, what’s the problem here?
MAYOR’S AWARD: I certainly hope they are in touch, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. And I think that’s what surprised most people, is that they’re not Texans who haven’t lived here. Most people didn’t realize it, including me. I didn’t realize it. And of course, now you’ve had the perfect storm, a statewide storm that tested our system. And we just have to – we went through this 10 years ago. I know Mayor Turner said it and the solutions have been put on the table. But back then when Texas was coming out of an economic downturn and they just didn’t want to spend the money to do it. Now our economy is strong even with COVID and we are going to have to do it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The governor said lawmakers should make sure Texans themselves don’t have to pay for it. But I mean, let’s be honest, the bills have to go somewhere. Who do you plan to pay for this?
MAYOR’S AWARD: Well, we expect the state to step in and pay for it, but of course the state is the taxpayer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s right.
MAYOR’S AWARD: You and I fund the government and that’s where it comes from. But the state has a big rainy day fund and they have access to a sales tax and things that everyone shares a share. They’re just going to have to take a very careful look at it and see which item is sent back directly to consumers and which item they collect.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you wouldn’t support any request of the federal government for more help to foot the bill?
MAYOR’S AWARD: I think we’ll go to the federal government. It will probably be a partner on this point. We’ll just have to work on it and see. Right now, for me, at the local level, we are focusing on getting water and electricity back to our citizens first and foremost. We don’t play politics here. We are in the public service. And we need to deliver electricity, water and food to our citizens. But we’ll be demanding answers as we go through this process.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you need more federal resources right now? I know President Biden had this declaration of major disaster. What do you need?
MAYOR’S AWARD: Well, FEMA has been very successful in scaling up, providing water and some services. The State provided part of the State Guard to assist us with our services. What we will need most, it seems, are probably grants to help people who have broken pipes, whose homes are flooded. My own house is flooded and I will have insurance to help you, but a lot of people don’t. And so at some point we’re going to have to have plumbers and additional resources, but it will take funds to help those people who don’t have the capacity to pay for themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you …
MAYOR’S AWARD: And that will have to go through the federal government.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And when can you start the vaccinations again?
MAYOR’S AWARD: We think we’ll probably start the vaccinations again tomorrow. No later than Tuesday morning early.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mayor Price, thank you for your time and good luck to you. We will come back immediately.