Gov. declines funds; umemployed suffer

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday rejected $555 million in federal stimulus money that would expand state unemployment benefits, saying the money would have required the state to continue funding the expanded benefits after the stimulus money ran out, Associated Press writer Monica Rhor reported.

Perry is following in the footsteps of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who became the first governor to reject stimulus funds on Wednesday.

Perry castigated the Obama administration’s stimulus package from a make-shift platform set up in an aisle of Bering’s, a family-owned department store in Houston.

He said strings attached to the funds and ‘further government intrusion’ will only slow job creation and hurt employers by raising their taxes.

‘Employers who have to pay more taxes have less money to meet their payroll. ‘hellip; It’s really that simple,’ the governor said.

But unfortunately, it’s not really that simple.

While Perry said the decision to take federal funding to assist with Texas unemployment in 2002 and 2003 worked because there were no strings attached, it begs the question ‘how so’ if we are facing a worse version of the same problem again in 2009?

And why is it we are still prioritizing employers over employees? The antiquated and disproven trickle-down affect doesn’t work – it’s really that simple.

News of the governor’s defiance of the president’s plan is all the more disconcerting, considering the Lone Star State’s sharply rising rate of unemployment.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in January, while the U.S. unemployment rate climbed to 7.6 percent. The January figure is up from a revised 5.6 percent in December 2008 and 4.4 percent last year.

‘The national economic crisis is beginning to have a serious, negative impact on our Texas economy,’ TWC Chairman Tom Pauken said in a press release. ‘Although the unemployment rate in Texas is lower than in other parts of the country, it has gone up in recent months, and we are concerned.’

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