TX Politics: stimulus $, Gov. Perry, and an empty unemployment fund

Thought about starting this in The Pit, maybe it’ll get moved anyway, but I thought I’d start it out with civil language.

Could anyone please explain the situation in Texas right now, with Gov. Rick “The Hair” Perry and the federal stimulus money he supposedly turned down because it came with all these strings attached?

All I can find is that he said there were too many strings attached, that it would come with undue tax burdens for businesses or something … and now in the meantime, the unemployment fund is empty and the state will have to borrow from the federal govt to keep paying unemployment benefits. Not to mention, in trying to find any info on this I ran into news that the 13-week federal extension money is … well, it’s somewhere, and they’ll give it to the people eventually. Retroactively. As if people can eat retroactively. :rolleyes:

Does anyone know what these “strings” on the federal stimulus money were? Or is this just a simple case of Perry looking out for big biz instead of the Everyman?

Why, yes, I do have a personal interest in this. I’m working currently, but this job is scheduled to wind down to a close by the end of next week. I’m working 6 days a week and haven’t had any time or energy to hunt for the next job (as if there were a bunch of openings or something … it’s all hiring freeze this and hiring freeze that and layoffs there and everywhere) and had planned to apply for unemployment benefits so I can continue to, y’know, eat and pay my rent.

One of the strings that may have been attached was the stimulous funds could only be used for one thing and not another, like rebuilding unemployment.

Well one of the big sticking points, as I understand it is payment of unemployment to part workers. Many business make a practice of limiting an employees hours to under 40 hours [ul]a week or just under the minimum where company policy says they have to give you health insurance.

If Texas took federal money they’d have to use it to pay part time workers. Since Texas doesn’t do that now, that wouldn’t save them anything. Of course it would give part time workers money, but it would set a predicent for later pressuring TX to adopt such policies.

The governor once compared out of work Texans to “junkies” so he doesn’t really think there is an issue with finding jobs. At least part time jobs.

Here’s some reasons that might play into it:

To get the additonal federal benefits any state taking them must:

[li]Modernize the way it calculates unemployment benefits. Texas disregards the most recent three to six months of a worker’s earnings when calculating eligibility - a practice only needed when claims were processed manually[/li]
[li]Allow those seeking part-time work to be eligible for pro-rated benefits[/li]
[li]Pass family-friendly legislation to allow benefits for spouses who quit their jobs because their wife/husband is transferred to another part of the state.[/li][/ul]
Texas has a similar feature but it’s only for military personnel

As far what I’ve read this seems to be a politcal thing.

Which funds? The stimulus isn’t a lump sum amount of cash delivered to the governor’s door. It’s a lot of money, yes. But it’s all for very specific purposes with very specific requirements attached to them. Which pots of money are you specifically asking for?


I don’t know exactly - I just heard on the news this morning that the unemployment fund is within a week or two of running completely empty; the state will then have to borrow $ from the feds. Each news segment also said, very succinctly, that Perry turned down federal stimulus money because it would cause unnecessary hardships for “job-producing” employers, without ever saying what those hardships would be. (A quick scan of the Dallas Morning News seemed to concur.)

This is where I get a little lost. In a nutshell, this means to me that the govt offered to GIVE the state money, the state turned it down, and now the state has to BORROW money instead. Ummmm… wouldn’t the money that doesn’t have to be repaid have been a better option? What am I missing here?

Here is a short article that outlines some of the concerns. South Carolina’s governor, the now-famous-for-other-Argentinian-reasons Mark Sanford, was reluctant to accept the stimulus funds for extended unemployment benefits for the same reason.

In a nutshell:

The stimulus included payments to states allowing them to extend their unemployment insurance payments beyond the normal period (12 months?). This is a good thing, since as noted yesterday in the Charlotte Observer, record numbers of people are exhausting their benefits without finding jobs.

However, the stimulus bill includes provisos that force states which accept the money to modify their unemployment insurance programs in two ways: first by changing the time frame within which you can show sufficient employment to entitle yourself to payments, and second by including in eligibility people with fewer hours per week (some part-time employees). While the federal government does not say that such changes have to be permanent, Governors Perry and Sanford are smart enough to realize that, once the extensions are granted by state law, they will be nigh on impossible to remove, once the recession ends and the federal money for extended benefits is no longer needed. This means that the states will face increased unemployment insurance costs after the recession is over, which will force them to increase the tax rate for such benefits.

It’s one of the few things I agree with our nutty governor on, btw. Federal stimulus money shouldn’t have strings like this attached. It’s a back-door way for the Democrats to force certain states to extend/expand their benefits. In my opinion, it is wrong.

Amusingly enough, I found this link in a paid advertisement on this very webpage while reading the discussion.

Here’s what RickPerry.org has to say:

It sounds like his objection is that the Federal Government is again overstepping its bounds and using tax money to coerce states into enacting laws that the federal government has no constitutional right to enact itself. (i.e. powers reserved to the individual states).

In this case, forcing Texas to permanently change its system to a much more costly one, but only promising funding for one short period of time.

That seems like a bad deal for Texas.

Possibly. I doubt there’s any shortage of Texas state legislators willing to deny additional unemployment benefits to their constituents.

Yes, how dare those socialists try to keep tens of thousands of people from losing everything they own. What sinister plots will they think of next.

Perhaps these "socialists’ (not my word) are not sinister; they just do not think of the unintended consequences for their actions. Don’t you think it would likely make it less attractive for businesses to move to the state of Texas if it is more expensive to do business in the state? If less businesses move to (or stay in) the state then the number of unemployed people will be higher.

I can’t stand Governor Perry, but I think he is correct on this issue.

The issue isn’t whether it is a good or a bad thing for unemployment benefits to be extended.

The issue is whether or not that should be up to the elected representatives of the people of the state of Texas to decide for the unemployed people of Texas. On that issue, I side firmly with the camp that think the federal government oversteps its bounds when it does that sort of thing, just as I think they overstep their bounds when they insist on states which receive federal money for health care to limit access to abortions, or otherwise poke their nose into that issue.