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Posts Tagged ‘Stimulus

NPT Capitol: Perry’s office to testify at the stimulus select committee

perry2On Wednesday, The House select committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding will hear testimony from the Office of the Governor. State Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, who chairs the committee, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Gov. Rick Perry’s handling of the stimulus money, particularly his public turning-down of over $550m of unemployment benefits that Texas could receive if it made changes to its unemployment code.

If attending, get there early and bring popcorn…

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm

NPT Capitol: Senate passes its version of the budget, Shapleigh votes no

The Texas Senate passed its version of the state budget, Wednesday. SB 1 passed 26 votes to 5, with El Paso state Senator Eliot Shapleigh voting against.

SB 1, authored by Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan uses over $10bn of federal stimulus aid while leaving the state’s rainy day fund untapped (at round $9bn).

Shapleigh, along with Senator Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, raised concerns at the very start of the debate Wednesday afternoon about the legality of using stimulus funds when Texas has the money to plug its own budgetary holes using the rainy day fund. (The Economic stimulus package, HR1, has provisions which prohibit the use of stimulus money if it simply substitutes for cash a state was going to dole out anyway, providing ways for the feds to recover the money.)

Ogden cautioned that Texas’ economic circumstances “could get worse before they get better.” Hence it was prudent to use stimulus money now and keep rainy days funds in the tank for an even rainier day. Otherwise Texas would “really be in the tank” if things continued to slide. (There are rumors circulating in Austin that state comptroller Susan Combs will lower her revenue estimate for the biennium. i.e. work out that Texas has less moolah than she first thought.)

The state budgetary process now awaits the House’s version of the bill. Then the two chambers will appoint a conference committee to hash out the differences before sending it back to their respective chambers and then on to the Governor.

Check out NPT for Shapleigh’s reasons for voting against the Senate version of the budget.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm

NPT DC: Obama chastises Perry over stimulus

From the Dallas Morning News: “The president … joked about the fact that we need transit dollars in Houston, although the governor of Texas has said that maybe Texas won’t take money from the stimulus bill,” Houston Mayor Bill White recounted afterward. [link]

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Speaking to a gathering of about 80 of the nation’s mayors at a White House meeting, Obama specifically mentioned Houston’s need for transit dollars but said Texas could lose money if Perry does not apply for all the federal aid for which the state is eligible.” [link]

Why did Obama feel the need to make these comments despite the fact that if Perry turns down stimulus aid, the legislature can request it? [link]

perry2Simple. Because Perry (and other governors too) have worked out that a lot of the stimulus aid will require much tweaking of the state budgets. And you can’t tweak a state budget without the governor’s signature.

Any creation/expansion of a state program (say, providing pro-rated unemployment benefit for seeking part time work) could bring down bucket loads of supplementary federal dosh (in addition to the one time windfalls for things like transportation projects.) [link]

But… that sort of thing requires the Governor’s say-so, as well as the feds and the lege.

Hence Obama’s singling out of Perry. The stimulus package is not just about fixing the economy. It is also about expanding the scope of state government by providing massive incentives. (Paid for with the national credit-card) In this sense it is as much about colonization as relief. But HR1 is structured in such a way that Governor’s can take the relief and reject the colonization.

Perry said Tuesday, “In Texas, we actually know it is a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth.” This glitch in the stimulus package means h that states can drink (at least half of) the milk without putting a deposit on the cow.

–Ben Wright

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

February 21, 2009 at 9:34 am

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