Houston City Controller Annise Parker sharply criticized Texas Governor Rick Perry today for rejecting $555 million in federal stimulus money that would have funded unemployment benefits for out-of-work Texans.
“In January alone, more than 65,000 Houstonians were unemployed – the most since 2004 – and our economy is slowing,” said Parker. “While the Governor makes his political point, our local economy is losing out on millions of dollars in stimulus funds – and Houstonians are hurting.”
In a statement released yesterday, State Representative Garnet Coleman, a member of the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, said: “by September 2009, the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund will have a deficit of at least $800 million, triggering the implementation of a deficit tax on Texas employers. This deficit tax will likely double the overall unemployment tax burden on the average Texas employer.”Parker said: “The Governor’s actions are wrong for Houston businesses, wrong for Houston workers and wrong for Texas.”
Parker recently called on Perry to allow more transparency and local input into decisions about allocating stimulus dollars, to ensure that Houston receives its fair share of funds. She also met with local legislators in Austin to discuss the use of stimulus funds.“I support the efforts of our local representatives to bypass the Governor’s rejection of these funds and bring more stimulus dollars to Texas and to Houston,” said Parker.“As the impact of the national economic crisis hits home in Houston, our leaders should be doing everything they can to keep our economy growing,” she said. “The Governor’s rejection of these badly needed funds is a failure of leadership.”