Now is not the time for state leadership to lose their heads and begin enacting laws that would increase taxation by expanding programs. But that’s exactly what State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is proposing.

Ellis suggests that we 1) “modernize” the way we calculate benefits, 2) cover Texans seeking part time employment, and 3) provide benefits to Texans who quit their jobs due to a spouse transferring employment.

These measures would only further burden an already strained unemployment fund with two of the measures increasing the total number of Texans on the states books, and the third increasing the drawl for those on unemployment.

Now, these aren’t changes Ellis is pulling out of thin air. No, they are the strings attached to accepting federal stimulus dollars.

Though Texas could receive as much as $550 million from the federal stimulus package for unemployment funding, that amount would not begin to cover any of the ongoing costs related to the broad overhauls of our current system called for in the bill. In a year’s time when the federal funds are gone Texans would be left footing the bill.

Senator Ellis in his editorial claims that if we don’t make the changes necessary to receive the stimulus we will have to trigger payments into the fund that would be detrimental to businesses. Ellis is only pretending to advocate for businesses, as the funds will quickly run out forcing businesses to cover not only current levels of spending but the newly mandated spending as well.

The problem in Texas and the nation is unemployment rates not unemployment funds.

Texas’ unemployed workers would be better served by the Texas Legislature overhauling our overly burdensome business tax and addressing property taxes.

These two factors are hindering businesses from maintaining current levels of operation and making it difficult for more industries to pursue development in Texas.

We need Texans employed, not on welfare and if businesses are begin taxed to the breaking point we will never be able to secure the jobs needed to keep Texas competing in the global job marketplace.

At the same time we need Texans spending, saving and investing, which is impossible if they are not working.

The answer to our problem is not to take more money from our industrious businessmen and women but to let them keep it. If businesses are allowed to keep more of their money we will be rewarded with expanded workforces and greater supply leading to a healthier economy.

If we take the ill-conceived advice of Sen. Ellis it will be to our peril. Expanding programs at this time will further the retraction of our state’s economy, prolong the hardships being faced by those who are unemployed and put those currently employed in harms way.


Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.