What the American Rescue Plan means to Houston

First and foremost, no layoffs.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Houston and Harris County are expected to receive more than $1.5 billion through the stimulus bill approved by Congress Wednesday, providing a massive cash injection that city officials say will help close a budget shortfall widened by the pandemic for the second year in a row.

The measure provides local governments with their most generous round of COVID-related funding yet, and it comes with fewer spending restrictions than last year’s aid. Houston will receive an estimated $615 million, putting the city at more than $1 billion in direct federal relief during the pandemic, while Harris County is projected to receive $914 million — more than double its allotment from the first round of local aid last March.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to use this money to, essentially, bail the city out of a very dire financial situation,” said City Controller Chris Brown, who monitors the spending of Houston’s more than $5 billion city budget.


Local governments will receive half their federal aid within 60 days of Friday, when President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. They will receive the second half of the funds at least a year later.

That means Houston will receive more than $300 million to offset its revenue losses next fiscal year, along with any potential shortfall before the current fiscal year ends June 30. [COVID recovery czar Marvin] Odum said the city finance department is projecting a budget gap of between $160 and $200 million next year, while Brown — whose office generates its own estimates separate from Turner’s administration — said he expects the shortfall to be even higher.

Brown noted that while finance department projections assume the city will see a less-than-1 percent reduction in sales tax revenue this year, the actual decrease has been 7 percent.

“The (Turner) administration, I don’t think, has properly evaluated the reductions in sales and property tax,” Brown said. “There’s a $40 million variance between us and (the) finance (department) in sales tax alone.”

Brown estimated city officials will have to lay off about a dozen city employees for every $1 million trimmed from the budget, meaning Houston could have been looking at more than 2,000 layoffs without any federal aid.

Instead, Houston’s relief will far exceed its budget deficit. The city also is expected to devote a chunk of the aid to direct COVID relief, such as testing and vaccinations. Turner’s administration exhausted the previous round of aid, totaling $405 million, in December. Those funds covered contact tracing efforts, city workers whose jobs were consumed by COVID, and relief to renters and small businesses, among other areas.

As the story notes, the ARP aid comes with fewer restrictions on how the money can be used than the CARES Act did, though the city was able to plug its deficit last year with those funds as well. The need for more funding has been known for a long time, and it’s only happening now because of the Presidential election and those two Georgia Senate runoffs. Elections have consequences, y’all.

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28 Responses to What the American Rescue Plan means to Houston

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    ““I’m hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to use this money to, essentially, bail the city out of a very dire financial situation,” said City Controller Chris Brown….”

    So there it is. The R’s said this was all a huge bailout for liberal cities and states that mismanaged their finances and promised pension benefits they had no hope of paying for, and now Houston’s controller admits that yes, that’s true. Why bother to be fiscally responsible when you can just wait for Uncle Sugar to bail you out for all your bad decisions. I bet all those conservative cities feel like absolute suckers for trying to play by the rules all this time.

  2. Manny says:

    Bill, let us wait to see if your fascist leaders in Austin refuse their share of the pie.

    So there it is a huge bailout for fascists cities and states.

  3. Manny says:

    30 states are controlled by the fascist party. Let us see how many of those fascists refuse to accept the stimulus from the federal government.

    Bill, how many fascist/republican controlled states do you think will return that “bailout” money.

  4. Bill Kelly says:

    I’m guessing Mr. Daniels specifically chose to ignore the “dire financial situation” part of the quote, which is pretty impressive given he only quoted one sentence.

    Turns out, Republican Mayors say the same thing Mayor Turner stared:


  5. Jen says:

    Bullshit Bill at it again. When it comes to ‘bailouts’, how about the fact that every year, the smart, well-run Democrat states end up sending money to the poor, stupid, ineptly managed trumptrash states via the Federal tax system. The GOP and its neo-nazi white supremacist friends like Bill are only trying to recreate the scene in 2009, when they convinced Obama not to go for a big recovery package to get out of the GOP-led Great Recession, which caused the Dems to lose big in 2010.
    The GOP only cares about politics and power, NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

  6. Flypusher says:

    The $1400 hit my account yesterday, but I had already spent a good chunk of it last Monday. I paid a local business to upgrade my attic insulation (since the Big Chill made me aware of the weak spots). So that $ is out into the local economy, I’ll be eligible for a tax credit, the project will pay for itself in a few years (via reduced utility costs), and I’m better prepared for next time. Yes, I do anticipate a next time, because I have zero faith in GOPers to address the grid issue in any meaningful way.

    So for me the stimulus is win-win-win-win.

  7. Jen says:

    To understand the Republicans, you really only need to understand White Grievance politics. That is the fuel that the GOP runs on. So, the Republicans are going to pursue policies that hurt poor whites, such as opposing the American Rescue Act, and then try to cover their tracks by spreading manure, in this case lies about fiscal irresponsibility. If they feel their base is not sufficiently aggrieved, then they gin up some good ol’ faux outrage and blast it all over on Fox News. So their whole program is deeply cynical and bad for everyone who isn’t a wealthy GOP insider, since it consists of hurting the poor and telling lies all the time to hide what they are really up to. If they pursued good policies, then everyone would be better off and poof goes White Grievance. The Democrats do not depend on White Grievance politics and are genuinely working to get votes by actually helping Americans to have better lives, because they have a real moral sense that helping people is the reason to be in government.

  8. SocraticGadfly says:

    “Bullshit Bill” was so fully refudiated (sic) that I guess he’s not even coming back on this one.

    And, Jen, speaking of “White Grievance,” here’s my take on Galveston Karen: https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2021/03/anti-mask-covid-denialist-karen-in.html

  9. Flypusher says:

    This person needs to be made into a cautionary tale, swiftly and most publicly.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    “Lie about fiscal responsibility?” Really? Weird. I remember, long ago, in a pre-China virus world, where Sly beat out Bill King for mayor, with the promise of solving the city’s looming pension shortfall crisis. Weird how a super well managed city didn’t have any money to pay its retirees. Same thing going on in Illinois, California, and New York, where their denizens are fleeing the high taxes and oppressive regulation and coming to places like Florida and Texas.

    As to “White grievance,” you betcha there’s white grievance, and it’s the left that is causing it with their “critical race theory” and other White bashing pogroms. You now just shit all over farmers with racial handouts only to black farmers, DESPITE Pickford and decades of previous handouts.

    How do you really think indoctrinating school kids with this communist poison is going to go, turning kids against their parents? How do you think it’s going to go in the woke workplace? This is why you need Dominion voting systems and hordes of illegal aliens to replace the voters you are losing with all this anti-White messaging. I don’t know why ANY White person would vote Democrat at this point. Self loathing? Into humiliation? I don’t get it, I really don’t.

    I guess you guys think, “Well, we will be a model minority and go along with all the anti-White messaging, and everyone will see how down for the cause we are and they will leave us and our kids alone.” Pro-tip: That isn’t how it will go. That’s how the Japanese ended up in camps in WWII.

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    As to Galveston Karen, I agree, she got what she had coming. A private business asked her to leave, she didn’t, the bank escalated by calling the police. The woman should have just left at that point. I think the cop COULD have solved the problem by just letting her walk out when he threatened her with arrest. She was backing away toward the door, so if he followed her outside, the whole thing would have been over without the escalation of force.

    Having said that, the cop was within his rights to throw her on the ground, he did, and she had it coming. She’s not a victim or a hero, although I bet everyone here would be making her one if she had been black, just sayin’.

  12. Flypusher says:

    I can cite plenty of reasons to vote Dem, but the GOP’s anti-science stance is more than enough reason.

  13. SocraticGadfly says:

    Not me, Bill; I would have supported her arrest regardless of race and / or sex.

    Oh, per that whole Fox interview, in an updated version of my blog? She’s apparently full MAGA. Including supporting Jan. 6, which she called the “Congress rally.”

    AND, she apparently had COVID and is lying about that and has been going around spreading the Trump virus (#fify Bill) like Typhoid Mary.

  14. Bill Daniels says:


    The ‘party of science’ has a fat tranny as your Secretary of Health, a tranny that openly supports genital mutilation of children. Trust muh science!


    I’ll accept that she’s probably one of my people. I’ll also note that she didn’t burn down the bank, steal shit, or assault anyone. That’s the difference. This woman embarrasses me, but your blm and antifa shock troops…..you fully support them, and your president and vice president both encouraged people to donate to bail your rioters out of jail. They’re proud of their malcontents, meanwhile, I’m embarrassed by this malcontent woman on my side. I’m not donating anything to this woman for bail.

    When it comes to masks, I’m pro-choice, but I also believe in private property rights, because I’m not a communist, and if the bank insists she wear shoes, shirt, and a mask, then that’s their right.

  15. Flypusher says:

    You’re deflecting again Bill. The GOP has so much blood in its hands over Covid-19 denial and deliberate falsehoods. Their head in sand approach towards climate change has the potential to make the time of Covid look like the good old days. You can’t give any honest defense, so you attempt to distract with some feeble whataboutism. It would be laughable except for the fact that you attempt to deflect from so many unnecessary deaths.

  16. Bill Daniels says:


    Biden has killed over 130.000 people in a matter of two months, and that doesn’t include all the suicides and people who died because they were too afraid to get their chemotherapy or whatever other medical treatments they needed to stay alive. I wouldn’t be talking about blood on hands if I was you, especially in light of all the Democrat governors like Whitmer and Cuomo that mass murdered their states’ elderly, by forcibly flooding nursing homes with the infected. Trump sent hospital ships and built the Javits Center out into a hospital, but no, Cuomo insisted on sending the infected to nursing homes instead, where the China virus ravaged the population. I guess that is Trump’s fault, because Trump should have just had the military physically stop Cuomo and others, in a reverse Little Rock type showdown. You would have labeled him a fascist for doing so, I might point out. Meanwhile, Biden has killed more people than the US lost in both world wars….in TWO months, and Biden is actively flooding Texas with diseased illegals that will kill even more. Biden is going out of his way to kill Americans, but it’s OK, because he’s a Democrat, amirite?

  17. Manny says:

    Bill, your white supremacy is showing.

    Bill, which fascist/republican controlled state will send that bailout out money back?

    Bill, the way you think shouldn’t you be praising Cumo if what you claim is rrue?

  18. Flypusher says:

    More bullshit Bill. You can’t blame Biden for failing to instantly clean up Trump’s Pandemic mess, not if you actually understand biology, which you obviously don’t. The GOP can’t govern, can’t solve problems; they can only complain and make bogus excuses and attempt to distract with culture war bullshit.

    As for Cuomo, how dishonest of you not to mention that the Dems aren’t making excuses for his fuckups. Looks like they’re going to start an impeachment inquiry.

  19. Bill Daniels says:


    LOL! Your team set the rules, so Trump is responsible for every single death, including those people shot dead or who died of cancer, who had the Wu flu. Trump owns all those deaths, every one of them. But now, somehow, Biden isn’t responsible for every death on his watch, because reasons? Give me a break. Live by your own standards. Biden killed every one of those 130K+, just as if he’d held a pillow over each of their faces. We’re giving Biden full credit for the Operation Warp Speed vaccines, right? We just make arbitrary rules and declarations…..OK, we should live by those rules, eh, Fly?

    As to Cuomo, we knew a year ago he was murdering nursing home residents. We all knew, but he got a pass from you on that. Only Republicans were outraged about it. Even now, what is the left upset about? Oh, Cuomo might have been a little inappropriate with some women years ago. You don’t care about piles of dead old people in mass graves, you finally get upset about a few women crying about nothing.

    Want proof of what I’m saying? Notice that Whitmer and the other nursing home killers aren’t facing impeachment or criminal probes…..because nobody on the left cares about that. Maybe those elderly were majority R voters?

  20. Manny says:

    Bill, you are full of shit. Where have Democrats blamed all the death on Trump, maybe on your white supremacy websites or stations do they make up such stupid stuff. And only a mind that is full of hate like you and racists like you would believe it.

    As proof, I present most of the comments you have posted above.

  21. Flypusher says:

    You prove again Bill why the GOP is the anti-science party. Yet again you want to argue from politics, not science. I’m going by the science- that is my standard, but not yours. The epidemiologists warned us what could happen, and the GOP chose not to heed them. They chose to downplay it, chose to lie to the American people, chose not to aggressively test and contact trace while the levels of virus were low and there was a chance to nip it in the bud. You can’t stop a speeding freight train on a dime anymore than you can instantly halt the spread of a pandemic. If you ignore the mole on your face for years and then the doctor tells you it’s stage 4 melanoma and untreatable, no doubt you would blame the doctor for not being able to cure you.

    Biden is getting credit for ramping up vaccine distribution. Trump could have worked on that during the lame duck period, but he chose instead to lie about the election and browbeat local election officials into cheating on his behalf and incite insurrection. So no surprise that he isn’t being associated with vaccinations.

    As for Cuomo, yes he did initially get a pass, and you can thank Trump for that. He set the bar so low with his insane lies and incoherent blatherings that Cuomo looked very good in comparison. I haven’t said anything about Cuomo’s harassment accusations, but there you go again putting other people’s words onto my mouth. You’re such a dishonest tool. But I have criticized some of his Covid decisions, especially this lying about the death numbers. That’s more than enough to justify impeaching him.

    As for Whitmer or anyone else, go ahead and investigate if you got the evidence. I’m not a servile Trump-cultist type who thinks people on my side of the aisle can never do wrong.

  22. SocraticGadfly says:

    Bill, as for your bigotry in spades? STFU. (And, no, Biden hasn’t killed 130K)

    And, Kuff, why don’t you delete some of his comments?

  23. Lobo says:


    RE: “Kuff, why don’t you delete some of his comments?”

    It’s a question worth considering, but I hope our gracious host will decline.

    The private-sector owner-operators (the status distinction important for 1st am. free speech purposes) of other on-line fora dedicated to Texas politics have faced this issue, and shut down the storied “marketplace” of ideas:

    The TEXAS TRIBUTE, for one, no longer has a comment space (and prior to its community-constriction decision had a strangely incoherent policy of supposedly requiring commentators to identity themselves by their real names, but let others sock-puppet under multiple pseudonyms, including authors here referred to as nut-wingers. It wasn’t always pretty, to indulge an understatement, but at least you got “nuggets” of diatribe to better know what you are up against, and had an opportunity the expose the vacuity of what some polemicists proffered as “argument”. None of that anymore. And this editorial decision didn’t just reduce the cacophony of the discourse to a single authoritative voice (Ross Ramsey and a bevy of byliners to cover the developments, with no cyber equivalent of an op-ed even); socio-linguists and scholars of political rhetoric now have to prospect elsewhere for textual raw material to ply their trade and conduct analyses of their own on the political discourse in Texas.

    We are all — collectively speaking — the poorer for the Trib’s very own decisions to shut down the forum space not just to opposing views, but to *all* voices other than their own.

    REFORM AUSTIN pretends to have a comment feature, but doesn’t actually clear comments that come into the pipeline for posting. At least that’s my experience. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Manny, you care to comment on how dissenters are treated on right-of-center / right-wing blogs? – Are they filtered/moderated? Are the banned?

  24. Manny says:

    Honestly Lobo what do from the comments? That there are people like Bill, me, or you?

  25. Manny says:

    Do we learn

  26. Bill Daniels says:

    Update on Galveston Karen:

    I think I’ve changed my mind about that. With the assumption that the 65 year old woman had her accounts at BoA since before the Wu flu panic, the bank changed the terms of their relationship unilaterally, and that’s not fair to the woman.

    This is the post, from another forum, that swayed my opinion:

    ” all need to call Galveston, Tx police and let them know it’s not ok to beat up 65 year old women. by iwontsubmit
    Chopblock 6 points 44 minutes ago +6 / -0

    Imagine you drop off your car at a service station for an oil change. An hour later, when you walk in to pick it up, they refuse to let you into the building or give you your car unless you put on a klu klux klan hoodie.

    Then they call the cops on you for ‘trespassing’ and you are attacked and arrested when you question the policeman’s legal authority to use police powers to enforce a clearly immoral and legally questionable policy in light of a private dispute where the other party is refusing to release your property back to you — property vital to your immediate survival.”

    They took her money without a mask, but now, when she wants it back, won’t give it to her unless she puts one on. They should have made some kind of accommodation for her to cash out her accounts. Asking a 65 year old woman to park, disconnect an RV, go through the drive through, then go back and hook up the RV again is an unreasonable ask, especially considering that BoA changed the rules, not the woman.

    Put this another way….say the bankers weren’t wearing masks, but the customer insisted that she wanted her money and demanded that the bank employees don masks to consummate the transaction. The customer would be arbitrarily and unilaterally changing the terms of their agreement.

  27. Lobo says:

    Manny: I have walked no kilometer in your sandals, but I might learn from your tales of woes, bunions, blisters, and sore toes.

    Insomma: Yes, you can! – Make a useful contribution.


    Sometimes fellow members of the OTK commentariat post links to external material that I wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Thank you! It’s laudable that such sourcing has become more common in journalistic reporting also. Links to court filings and other official documents, for example, which make it possible to form your own opinion and avoid becoming a victim of framing and spin without being aware of it.

    Take, for example, LG Patrick’s grilling of Last-Member-Standing d’Andrea of ERCOT-PUC-HEIST fame. You can either go with the Trib angle of an incipient pre-primary Patrick vs. Abbott rivalry (d’Andrea has been a close associate dating back to Abbott’s AG tenure and continues to enjoy his backing), or just watch the show yourself. In regard to the latter, it would help to have someone post the URL and tell you that the Patrick v. d’Andrea grill fest starts at 4:54 (hours/minutes) into the 03/11/21 Senate Committee on Jurisprudence.

    You can then form your own opinion as to whether the LG was going after Abbott, or just getting ready to axe d’Andrea, for keeping the exorbitant $9,000 per MWh price cap in place for 32 hours after the controlled blackouts had ended, running up an additional $16 billion bill to stick to the buyer/consumer side of the market.


    On litigation-related matters in particular, the journalistic reporting often contains egregious errors, or well-meaning efforts to popularize for the plebs that result in misrepresentation: confusing a TRO with a temporary injunction, for example, or a temporary injunction hearing with a trial on the merits, or failing to appreciate the distinction between federal and state district courts, or a mandamus filing with an interlocutory appeal.

    And sometimes the players themselves obfuscate the law. Governor Abbott going after social media tech giants with legislation, but invoking the First Amendment, which only applies to and constrains state actors: “Congress shall make no law …”, applicable to state legislatures through the 14th amendment.


    Now we have SB12. Abbott isn’t even shy about pushing this First-Amendment-defiant lawmaking effort for the benefit of conservatives. Motto: We won’t allow that. To verify, stop, click, and listen: https://www.facebook.com/kbtxmedia/videos/vb.27855747225/218384556650080/?type=2&theater

    In addition to the creation of a private cause of action, Paxton gets to police the speech regulation, and will make money off the forthcoming efforts to force tech companies to carry conservative speech for his litigation shop, the OAG. To wit:

    Sec. 143A.007. ACTION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL. (a) The
    attorney general may bring an action for declaratory relief to have
    determined any question of construction or validity arising under
    this chapter and to obtain a declaration of rights, status, or other
    legal relations with respect to this chapter. The attorney general
    may recover costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees
    under Section 37.009 in connection with declaratory relief obtained
    under this subsection.
    (b) The attorney general may bring an action to enjoin a
    violation of this chapter. If the injunction is granted, the
    attorney general may recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees
    incurred in bringing the action and reasonable investigative costs
    incurred in relation to the action.


    Of course, I am myself liable to make substantive errors (in addition to an awful number of typos on a regular basis), and the comment space at least in theory can serve as a corrective. That’s a core component of the storied marketplace of ideas.


    It would be desirable to see more participation on these pages. Alas, there is no clear payoff for doing so in the first instance, and the condemnatory responses and ad-personam attacks by some of the usual suspects no doubt discourage OTK readers from participating because they risk making themselves targets of the regularly-hurdled invective.

    Some of the usual thick-skinned suspects, of course, may get a psychic kick out of the textual sparring. And why not? – Comment space as a mental gym; – arena more than agora.

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