Right on the heels of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford having rejected some of the monies in the so-called stimulus bill, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has similarly signaled that he will be rejecting some of the monies as well:
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry, joining a handful of his fellow Southern Republican leaders, said Thursday that he was rejecting $556 million in federal stimulus money for unemployed Texans because it had too many strings attached.
He said the federal provisions would require unprecedented changes in state rules on who is eligible for unemployment payments. He also argued that the funds – which Democrats say would update benefits so that more women, elderly and student workers could qualify – would place additional burdens on businesses, leaving them to pay the added costs when the federal money ran out.
Instead, businesses should be able to use the money to create jobs, Perry said.
“That is why I am so concerned about the belief that has gained a foothold in our national consciousness that the best and only way to solve our nation’s problems is to drown them with taxpayer dollars,” said Perry, announcing his decision at a Houston hardware store.
The announcement, following weeks of speculation about whether Perry would reject part of the massive economic stimulus package, set off charges that the governor was forsaking, for political expediency, about 45,000 Texans who need financial help fast. Conservative and business groups applauded Perry’s decision.
Some Democratic lawmakers said they hoped to marshal enough votes to take the money over Perry’s objection, though that would be difficult.
“Texas covers the smallest percentage of unemployed workers of any state,” said Don Baylor Jr., an analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an advocate for low-income Texans. Four out of five laid-off workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, he noted.