Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Perry Remains Opposed To Texas Accepting Federal Stimulus Money

Yesterday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Denver, Colorado, where, after a tour of a solar installation project at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Recovery and Reinvestment Act will pump money into infrastructure projects, health care, renewable energy development and conservation in all 50 states, with twin goals of short-term job production and longer-term economic viability.

The Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes an immediate tax break for 95 percent of Americans with a $2,500 tax credit for individuals working toward a college education and a $400 tax break for most individual workers and $800 for couples, including those who do not earn enough to pay income taxes.

The act provides financial incentives for people to start buying again, from first homes to new fuel efficient cars, and it provides help to poor people and laid-off workers, with increased unemployment benefits and food stamps, and subsides for health insurance. The bill also allocates $50 billion for energy efficiency initiatives and green jobs; expanding broadband services; preventing teacher layoffs; and, $8.4 billion to improve public transit and rail.

Part of this stimulus spending is entrusted to state governors and legislatures so they can avoid layoffs from their state level to local city government workforces and avoid deep spending cuts in essential programs, like road and bridge maintenance and unemployment aid.

The state of Texas is expected to receive approximately $17 billion of the economic stimulus money to aid the state in several areas including:
  • Health and human services: $5.8 billion
  • Education: $6.2 billion
  • Transportation: $2.8 billion
  • Labor: $1 billion to save 269,000 jobs and also fund unemployment programs in Texas
  • Criminal justice: $161 million
  • Housing and infrastructure: $957 million
  • Job creation and stop loss: 269,000 jobs over the course of the next 18 to 24 months
The two Congressmen in the U.S. House that represent Collin County residents, Sam Johnson (R) and Ralph Hall (R) and both Texas’ Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and John Cornyn (R) voted against the stimulus bill on the grounds that it involves deficit spending by the government.

But, our Republican representatives in Washington were for deficit spending, when Republicans controlled congress, before they were against deficit spending, now that a Democratically controlled congress is attempting to save the nation from catastrophic economic collapse following Bush's Presidency. In 2006, when the Republicans still controlled Congress, they actively rejected any attempts Democrats made to control deficit spending. The New York Times reported on March 14, 2006,
"Senate Republicans on Tuesday narrowly defeated an effort to impose budget rules that would make it harder to increase spending or cut taxes, a move that critics said that showed Republicans were posturing in their calls for greater fiscal restraint. ... Republicans said the push to add the rules to the budget was a back-door effort to make it harder to extend President Bush's tax cuts. 'The practical effect of this is to raise taxes,' said Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire and chairman of the Budget Committee."
And, as tax cuts along side hundreds of billions of dollars of war spending in Iraq pushed the nation ever deeper into long term deficits, our Republican representatives never spoke a word of concern about deficit spending.When Pres. George Bush "tax cut" the nation from an annual budget surplus of $300 billion, as Pres. Clinton left office, to an annual budget deficit of $1 trillion, as Pres. Bush left office, our Republican representatives in Washington fully supported and voted for Pres. Bush's deficit spending policies and legislation without complaint. Now our Republican representatives in Washington fuss about deficit spending? This smacks more of political expediency and posturing than principled government philosophy that we can believe in.

And, here at home in Texas, after Governor Rick Perry turned a $90 million surplus in the state's unemployment fund into a $447 million deficit by cutting the fund's replenishment business tax, Governor Perry is now saying that he may not accept the stimulus money allocated to Texas.
Of particular concern to Gov. Perry is the federal funding for the state's unemployment insurance because it is contingent on the state relaxing its narrow unemployment benefit limits so that more jobless people can qualify.
A memo to the Texas House Democratic Caucus highlights that Governor Perry is intent on sticking to the same failed tax cutting and deficit spending economic strategies of President Bush and our Republican representatives in Washington:
Rick Perry and the Unemployment Fund

Upon hearing the news that the Comptroller was predicting a $9.1 billion drop in [state] revenue, Governor Perry's reaction was to increase the shortfall by calling for more tax cuts. This is right in line with what he has done with the State's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

A year ago, the Unemployment Fund had a surplus of $90 million. In a shortsighted and politically expedient move, Governor Perry halted collection of the replenishment tax. Nearly 12 months later, Governor Perry reinstated the replenishment tax. Now the Unemployment Fund faces a $447 million deficit.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas State Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, who heads the state House’s Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, said it’s hard to understand why Governor Perry is reluctant to use stimulus money.
“The governor every year comes in and wants half a billion dollars for the (state) enterprise fund to create jobs and stimulate economic growth and he’s going to say we don’t want $20 billion?” Dunnam said. “I find it difficult to understand.”
Governor Perry must certify that Texas will use the money to create jobs and promote economic growth in order for Texas to share of the economic stimulus money. If Perry declines to do so, however, the Legislature can accept the money on the state’s behalf by passing a concurrent resolution.

The following is a press release from the Texas Democratic Party:

Dear fellow Democrat,

I wanted to share with you this latest press release from your Texas Democratic Party.

In these tough economic times, Texans are trying to hold onto their jobs while coping with the skyrocketing cost of insurance, health care and college tuition.Now that President Obama has signed the economic recovery plan into law, Texas stands to receive much-needed assistance - unless Governor Rick Perry rejects these funds for the sake of his own partisan agenda.

Call Governor Rick Perry's office and demand that he fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to him by Texans and get to work on solving our state's problems rather than rejecting funds that will improve our infrastructure, create jobs and allow more parents the opportunity to send their kids to college.

Governor Perry's Austin Office: (800) 843-5789


Threats to Reject Stimulus Funds Ring Partisan

Austin, TX) - Texans have already seen Republican U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and Republican Congressman Pete Sessions play politics instead of working to develop a bipartisan plan to rescue our economy. Now that the economic recovery plan has been signed into law by the President, Governor Rick Perry continues to put Texans in the crossfire of his partisanship by threatening to reject all or part of the benefits Texans would see from our federal tax dollars that would be used here under the plan.

"Governor Perry's obstructionist antics demonstrate he is more concerned with political recovery for the Republican Party than economic recovery for Texas," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie. "If the Governor's political agenda allows our tax dollars to be shipped off to other states, 'Ripoff Rick' will cost Texans an important investment in job creation, schools, health care and transportation."

"Years of failed Republican economic policy got us into this mess, and now Rick Perry is threatening to reject real solutions to cleaning up the mess he himself helped create. That's not leadership - that's reckless partisanship," continued Richie.

Gov. Perry's partisan antics are at odds with the new direction our country is taking - the recovery plan is being welcomed by an overwhelming majority of our nation's governors - both Democrats and Republicans. If Gov. Perry rejects Texas' share of the federal aid, our state could lose as much as $27 billion to invest in infrastructure - funds that could create or save an estimated 269,000 jobs.

"Apparently, Rick Perry would rather Texans sit in traffic on his toll roads than have the funding to build new roads," added Richie. "He should be ashamed of his threats to ship hard-working Texans' tax dollars off to other states - but perhaps he's hoping the 39% of voters who supported his reelection won't mind becoming casualties of his obstructionism."


Your friend and fellow Democrat,

Boyd L. Richie

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