Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Lamebrained Decision

Gov. Rick Perry is apt to face a primary challenge when he seeks another four–year term in office next year. And, when he does, he's going to have to answer some tough questions.

One of the toughest has to do with his decision earlier this year to reject part of the stimulus funds that were earmarked to help the unemployed.

As the Houston Chronicle points out in an editorial, the decision was "a thinly veiled gesture to woo his conservative base." In fact, I wrote about this three months ago, but Perry may not be able to count on that base when Republicans hold their gubernatorial primary next spring.

Perry's likely opponent is Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is probably the most popular politician in Texas these days. And, even though Hutchison didn't support the stimulus package, she wasn't the one who chose to reject any of the funds that were intended to help people in the state. Perry did that.

And, by the time the primary is held, a lot of people — whether employed or unemployed — will have paid the price for Perry's bravado. As the Chronicle observes,
"[S]oaring claims by laid–off employees are projected to empty the state unemployment compensation trust fund by next month. The number of claims paid out last month was over $350 million, nearly $260 million more than in May 2008. As a result of the added claims, state officials have been forced to borrow $160 million from the federal government and will need another $360 million to pay benefits through next October."

The chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission says unemployment taxes charged to employers in this state will nearly double.

"Instead of getting our fair share of stimulus dollars, Texas will instead be a borrower and issuer of new bonded indebtedness," writes the Chronicle. "Quite a price to pay for a political gesture."

Hopefully, Perry will pay an even higher price at the polls.

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