March 17, 2009
Planning the workaround

While one may feel reasonably optimistic about the chances of a legislative override to Governor Perry's decision to reject stimulus funds for unemployment insurance, it never hurts to try to grease the skids a little.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she would ask Vice President Joe Biden, who chairs a task force on the use of stimulus funds, to allow Texas to receive the money even if the state enacts provisions to automatically end these additional benefits after two years. Current federal rules forbid such a "hard-sunset" provision.

Making the changes temporary would be politically beneficial in getting them passed, said Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis, but he believes the Legislature should eventually make them permanent.

Perry said accepting the stimulus money would increase costs on small businesses and would come with too many federal strings. The state would have to provide unemployment payments to certain part-time workers and to a spouse who stayed home to care for children while the other spouse worked, for example.

Ellis said he would work with colleagues to pass a resolution accepting the federal funds, make necessary additions to the state's unemployment insurance system and override a presumed Perry veto.

Jackson Lee and Ellis spoke harshly of Perry's decision.

"We find ourselves in a difficult situation, because the governor of the state of Texas has decided that roads are more important than people," Jackson Lee said, noting that Perry had accepted stimulus funds for infrastructure projects.

Yo, Kay Bailey! See how easy that was? And Jackson Lee didn't even mention toll roads. You gonna voice an actual opinion on this, or are you just going to let Rick Perry continue to dictate the terms of the debate? The Lege is taking action. What are you doing?

It is true, as Clay Robison points out, that KBH voted against the stimulus package, as did nearly every other Republican in DC. But so what? Perry campaigned against it in his leadership role with the Republican Governors Association. That hasn't stopped him from grabbing over 95% of the funds with both hands. It would be child's play for KBH to say that she took her stand against the stimulus, but now that it's law she wants to make sure Texas gets everything it has owed to it. Hell, Ron Paul does this, and if you listen to him explain his actions it almost makes sense. This is not rocket science.

Finally, how precious is it that the Chron editorial board says "We don't know" if Perry's actions here "[have] something to do with the politics of the 2010 governor's election"? Yeah, and I don't know if John Calipari's complaints about Memphis not getting a #1 seed have anything to do with the politics of player motivation. Must be hard to type those editorials while clutching one's pearls, that's all I can say.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 17, 2009 to Budget ballyhoo
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