Texas Legislators need to pay careful attention to the stimulus package being crafted by the new administration and the impact that it could have on our state’s budget.

Built into the new stimulus package is a stealthy subsection called the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act that would require states to change the way that they calculate benefit handouts to the unemployed. The act would work to increase benefit eligibility expanding the size of our state government.

Texas by accepting the terms of the bill could secure about $500 million in federal money to bolster its unemployment benefits but it would come with stipulations, stipulations that could end up costing Texas and its businesses millions.

According to the Austin American Statesman Bill Hammond, executive director of the Texas Association of Business, said Texas should walk away from the federal money because it could lead to an ongoing cost of at least $100 million a year.

Given the multitude of options laid before the Texas Legislature to deal with employment in Texas including revising current tax code, lowering property taxes and reducing stringent regulations it would not be prudent to subject the state to dictated terms from the federal government.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, has introduced a bill to expand unemployment benefits to part-time workers, at a time when our current fund is running out of money to pay benefits to currently qualified individuals.

This is the type of policy and program that will, in the long run, not benefit the economy of our state. Our representatives have to pay attention to the implications of not correctly addressing unemployment. Unemployment should be viewed as what it is, an indictment on how government is running our businesses into the ground, overseas and across the border.

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Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.