Of a Hot-for-Secession Governor and One Cool Lady Senator
Texas governor, Rick Perry, has a penchant for trying to grab the headlines. This, perhaps in preparation for his upcoming run for re-election against someone who promises to be one tough rival, one tough lady—but always a lady—U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
His headlines-grabbing, anti-Washington rants, however, come at the expense of Texans and Texas, such as, recently, in terms of possibly lost financial help for Texans and in terms of national ridicule heaped unfairly upon the Great State of Texas.
Take first his recent ballyhoo refusing to accept $555 million in federal economic stimulus money from the federal government. Money that would help the nearly depleted Texas unemployment trust fund; money that could expand unemployment benefits for nine years; and money badly needed to help the increasing numbers of unemployed Texans, including those part-time workers who are being laid off.
Perry has said that the stimulus money comes “with strings attached.”
But Perry’s stubborn position and excuses have been strongly denounced by lawmakers and advocates for low-income residents:
According to the Austin American-Statesman:
“Without this federal money, Texas businesses face increased unemployment insurance taxes in bad times, and without the modest reforms in state law required to get the federal money, about 45,000 Texas workers will go without unemployment insurance,” said Don Baylor, a policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said rejecting the money “demonstrates the height of denial about the challenges confronting this state and its people.”
“Governor Perry’s decision to reject the $555 million in unemployment aid is simply deplorable,” said State Senator. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. “Texas families are hurting and are worried about how they are going to keep their homes and pay their bills. Today, Governor Perry told them: ‘good luck with that.’ If the Governor won’t do his job, we’ll have to go around him, and I am prepared to do just that.”
Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken has said that with more people losing their jobs, a “real deficit” could come by September or October and the state might need to seek a federal loan to maintain the unemployment compensation trust fund.
Meanwhile, Senator Hutchison keeps her cool.
More recently, kowtowing to tea baggers during the tea parties held in Texas, Perry, true to form, wasted no time in firing up his supporters, some already shouting “Secede!”, by suggesting that there could come a point when Texans would be so fed up with Big Government, taxation, spending and debt, that they would want to secede from the Union.
“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”
Perry’s antics have caused him to become the butt of innumerable jokes and ridicule, at the expense of Texas and Texans.
On Friday, the Statesman reported that “Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday stuck by his earlier statement that Texas can secede from the United States — a far-reaching, legally questionable prospect that nevertheless drew Perry a fresh favorable mention by Rush Limbaugh, one of the nation’s leading conservative voices.”
And in the same article: “A Perry spokeswoman said Perry believes Texas could secede if it wanted.”
Meanwhile, Senator Hutchison is keeping her powder dry.
But back to Perry’s refusal to accept the funds to help out the state’s unemployed. Apparently not all is lost yet for the unemployed in Texas.
Today’s Austin American-Statesman, under the banner “Against Perry’s wishes, Senate OKs stimulus money for jobless,” reports:
Lawmakers who want to defy Gov. Rick Perry and accept federal stimulus money for extending unemployment benefits cleared an important hurdle Monday.
The Senate gave final passage to Senate Bill 1569, which expands the unemployment program so the state can get $555 million in federal stimulus money. It now heads to the House, where supporters and opponents alike say it is likely to pass.
There is a catch, however. Since there are six weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers must finish a bill within the next month in order to be able to override Perry’s expected veto.
It is going to be a tough fight, one not only against Perry’s stubbornness and antics, but also against the legislative clock.
In the meantime, Perry’s 2010 opponent for the Texas governorship, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, remains one cool lady and is keeping her powder dry.