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Ray Perryman

Another study of bathrooms and business

Short answer: Bathroom bills are bad.

Legislation viewed by many as discriminatory toward LGBT Texans — including proposals to regulate which bathrooms transgender individuals may use — could cost the state $3.3 billion in annual tourism dollars and more than 35,600 full-time jobs associated with leisure travel and conventions, according to a study by the Waco-based Perryman Group. The study was commissioned by Visit San Antonio and the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.

“In other words, what we have been saying all along is absolutely undeniable,” Casandra Matej, president & CEO of Visit San Antonio, said in a statement. “These numbers tell us there will be a significant — and longstanding — adverse impact on San Antonio and the state. We urge our legislators to consider these effects in making their decisions.”

[…]

While it’s “impossible to know with certainty the magnitude of the net effects of the proposed bathroom access policy on travel and tourism in Texas,” the report estimates that the initial impact on business activity could cost the San Antonio-New Braunfels area $411.8 million annually.

“If the Texas Legislature passes a law viewed as discriminatory against LGBT persons, it is likely that some meetings and events would be canceled and that some leisure travelers will also avoid the state,” the study says.

The findings — based on losses experienced in other states and data from a survey by a national travel association — will likely help boost opposition to the legislation from business and tourism groups. Those groups have already pointed to millions of dollars lost in North Carolina following the passage of that state’s original bathroom law, which was recently rewritten amid mounting public and economic backlash.

Tourism officials from the state’s five biggest cities oppose bathroom-related legislation and they have already warned lawmakers that they’ve heard from organizations that are reconsidering planned events in their cities — a move that could cost each of them several millions of dollars.

You can find a copy of the study here. The Rivard Report, which is based in San Antonio, adds some more details.

The local report takes into consideration the counter-flow of conventions and organizations that would prefer to host their event in a city or state that has a “bathroom bill,” Perryman said during a conference call with media Monday morning, which are nominal. “There is a perception that group is much larger than it is. Ninety-plus percent feel the other way [do not support such legislation] … it’s overwhelming.”

There are at least 11 groups that have or are considering backing out of events located in San Antonio already, said Matej, who estimates the impact of those cancellations alone would be around $40 million.

“In other words, what we have been saying all along is absolutely undeniable,” she said Monday during the event announcing the report in the lobby of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. “These numbers tell us there will be a significant and longstanding adverse impact on San Antonio and the state. We urge our legislators to consider these effects in making their decisions.”

[…]

“SB 6 is an idiotic piece of legislation,” said Hispanic Chamber President and CEO Ramiro Cavazos, adding that the laws would be unenforceable and create more problems for cities. “Now is not a time to be apathetic.”

San Antonio, South San Antonio and North San Antonio chamber representatives were also present during the press event on Monday.

City Council will be presenting a “united front” against both bills, said Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3). “Now we have the data and numbers that back up what we’ve been saying.”

Even without the economic impact, Viagran said she would oppose the legislation.

“No matter what, this bill – whatever carve outs or amendments they put to it – it’s still not an inclusive bill,” said Viagran, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “It’s still discriminatory.”

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. If you don’t believe that at this point, I don’t know what else there is to say. If there’\s one small bit of good news in all this, it’s that the business lobby isn’t buying it, and remains opposed to this nonsense.

Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace insists this bill is just as concerning as SB 6.

“This is not just about jobs, this is about discrimination,” he told the Current. “We are hearing from our members that business are steadfastly opposed to any discrimination law.”

Wallace said HB 2899 would “tie the hands” of business owners wanting to recruit top talent, because few people want to work for a place where discrimination is welcome.

“A lot of people, especially Millennials, do not want to work for a business or live in a city or a state that is not welcoming to all people,” Wallace said.

[…]

On Tuesday, a day before a House committee holds a hearing for the new House bill, a group of bipartisan business members representing Apple, IBM, Facebook, Google, Microsoft — and a handful of other national and local businesses — held a press conference at the capitol to oppose Rep. Simmons’ new iteration of a bathroom bill.

“I’m a conservative and a proud Texan. I am especially proud of our state’s reputation for being a warm and welcoming place to live,” said Sally Larrabee, who works for Process Control Outlet, a decades-old Texas tech company. “We don’t need to give our state a reputation for being a place that has laws that discriminate against people.”

Sarah Meredith, an employee of Austin tech startup Umbel, said businesswomen of her generation aren’t okay with being political pawns. “We need a robust economy. What we do not need is to be used as props to promote discrimination for political gain,” Meredith said.

“The people who are promoting discriminatory bills are backed by radical groups that have literally called for driving LGBT people out of the state of Texas.”

Indeed. And I hope all of the Republicans in that bipartisan group of business people remembers that next year when it’s time to vote, for their legislators, their Lt. Governor, and their Governor.

Gov. Greg Abbott is signaling support for House legislation that some hope will serve as an alternative to the Senate’s “bathroom bill.”

In a statement Tuesday, Abbott called the House alternative developed by state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, a “thoughtful proposal.”

[…]

“I applaud the House and Senate for tackling an issue that is of growing concern to parents and communities across Texas who are now looking to the Legislature for solutions,” Abbott said in the statement. “Rep. Simmons is offering a thoughtful proposal to make sure our children maintain privacy in our school bathrooms and locker rooms.”

Don’t reward bad behavior next year, Texas Association of Business and others. You have one chance to get this right. Get it wrong, and everyone will know that your words mean nothing. RG Ratcliffe has more.

Businesses say they want Medicaid expansion, too

This really comes down to two things.

It’s constitutional – deal with it

Chambers of commerce representing companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) are challenging Texas Governor Rick Perry and lawmakers to expand health care for the poor in the state with the highest percentage of uninsured people.

The chambers of five cities are sending lobbyists to press Republican leaders to increase Medicaid coverage under President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

Businesses are often allied with Perry, a failed contender for last year’s Republican presidential nomination. The chambers, however, argue Texas shouldn’t pass up $100 billion over the next decade to cover 1.5 million adults. Obama’s plan would pay all costs until 2016, then the state’s share would gradually increase to 10 percent in 2020. Perry says that’s too expensive.

“This may be the only time that we have taken an actual formal position that is opposite that of the governor,” said Richard Dayoub, chief executive officer of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know of any issue that has created so much concern across the state and has amassed so much support across party lines and throughout the business sector.”

Chambers supporting expansion in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington include members ranging from publicly traded companies to small shoe stores and family restaurants, many of them strained by health costs.

[…]

About 29 percent of Texas citizens lack insurance, according to a March 8 poll by Gallup Inc. The state ranked 40th in health last year because 30 percent of residents are obese and one of every four children lives in poverty, according to United Health Foundation, affiliated with UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH)

Hospitals have urged expansion because it will reduce expensive and ineffective emergency-room visits, said Stephen Mansfield, chief executive of Methodist Health System in Dallas and next year’s chairman of the 2,100-member Dallas Regional Chamber.

“The eight other Republican governors were just as opposed to this initially as Rick Perry,” said Mansfield, who met with him in February. “They came to understand the economics.”

Chamber lobbyists from Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio have discussed Medicaid with legislators during the current session in Austin, officials said. Dayoub of the El Paso chamber spoke with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, both Republicans, and about 35 legislators of both parties.

As a reminder, Progress Texas‘ list of all the groups that have endorsed Medicaid expansion is here. I keep harping on this theme, but it all comes down to whether any elected official feels like they might lose support for their position, and I just don’t see the evidence for that. Chambers of commerce don’t necessarily speak for their member businesses, as anyone who has followed the exploits of the increasingly hard-right US Chamber of Commerce can attest, so it’s not clear how much pressure they could apply to the likes of Rick Perry or Greg Abbott if the wanted to. Maybe they can put some heat on certain individual legislators, but I’m not holding my breath for that, either. People are going to have to lose elections over this, and that’s much easier said than done right now.

Business groups “are looking short term,” said Republican Senator David Duell (sic), a Greenville physician who met with chamber representatives. He said he doubted the Obama administration’s commitment “with the long-term viability of the federal government in question.”

Such opposition is “idiocy,” said Margaret Jordan, a former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas director who is president of Dallas Medical Resources, a consortium of hospital executives and businesspeople headed by billionaire oilman Ray Hunt. “Medicaid expansion is a win-win for everybody.”

[…]

The tension is evident 330 miles (531 kilometers) west of Dallas in Lubbock, a wind-swept city of 230,000 that is the hometown of 1950s rock ’n’ roll pioneer Buddy Holly and Texas Tech University. Medicaid divides the chamber of commerce, which favors expansion, and Republican Senator Robert Duncan, a lawyer who has served in the legislature since 1989.

After officials at the city’s UMC Health System explained how Medicaid expansion could cushion cost increases, chamber directors unanimously approved a resolution, said Chairman Carlos Morales.

“It’s a lot of money we’d be missing out on,” said Morales, who is executive vice president of Caprock Home Health Services Inc., a company that employs 2,200 in 12 Texas offices.

Duncan, however, says Texas can’t afford the deal because Medicaid crowds out spending for education, parks and other priorities.

“It’s not a free lunch,” Duncan said. He said he was unconvinced by studies by former deputy State Comptroller Billy Hamilton and Waco economist Ray Perryman suggesting expansion would boost the state’s economy by increasing business activity and productivity.

So on the one hand, you have people like Sen. Bob Deuell, who thinks we’re going bankrupt despite trillions having already been cut from the deficit, Medicare costs trending downward, and the entire basis of our medium-term debt-to-GDP ratio being a function of a temporary glut of old people. On the other hand, you have Sen. Robert Duncan, who doesn’t care what a bunch of high-falutin’ economists think when he just knows in his gut that spending money can only be a zero-sum game. Yeah, good luck changing that dynamic. In the meantime, the fanatics at TPPF present their never-gonna-happen case for Medicaid block grants so they can more efficiently deny access to health care to all those shiftless poor people, and the Democratic Congressional delegation chides Rick Perry for his continued mulishness on this topic. EoW and BOR have more.

Perryman for expanding Medicaid

Economist Ray Perryman makes the straightforward economic case for expanding Medicaid in Texas.

Ray Perryman

According to our analysis, every $1 spent by the State of Texas to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act returns $1.29 in dynamic State government revenue during the first 10 years of the expansion.

Medicaid expenditures lead to substantial economic activity, federal funds inflow, reduction in costs for uncompensated care and insurance, and enhanced productivity from a healthier population. When these outcomes and the related multiplier effects are considered, the program actually far more than pays for itself and provides a notable economic stimulus. This pattern also continues beyond the initial 10 years.

[…]

During the first 10 years after implementation of a Medicaid expansion, The Perryman Group estimates that the total cumulative gross benefits to the state economy include $270.0 billion (in 2012 dollars) in output (real gross product) and 3,174,640 person-years of employment.

These overall gains stem from spending for health care which would be provided through the expansion, reducing uncompensated care (and, thus, the local government and private funds needed to pay for it), and improving outcomes through better care (reducing morbidity and mortality and thus increasing productivity).

State revenues required to implement the Medicaid expansion will of necessity be diverted from other potential uses, either in terms of the fiscal resources funding other public goods and services, lower taxes allowing for greater private sector activity, or some combination of spending increases and tax reductions. When this diversion is accounted for, the outcomes from expanding Medicaid are still $255.8 billion (in 2012 dollars) in output (real gross product) and 3,031,400 person-years of employment (about 300,000 per annum during the first 10 years of implementation).

Federal Medicaid funding returned to the state would total $6.78 for every dollar of state funds spent. The federal tax burden on Texas citizens and firms will remain the same irrespective of whether the state chooses to receive these benefits. The burden on local government entities is reduced (by $1.21 for every dollar of state funds for Medicaid expansion), while dynamic local government revenue rises by $0.51 per dollar of state money expended. Insurance premiums would be less due to a reduction in uncompensated care, and overall quality of life and productivity would be enhanced.

For every dollar spent by the State for additional Medicaid coverage, total spending in the economy would go up by $43.50, output (real gross product) would rise by $21.72, personal income would grow by $14.34, and retail sales would expand by $6.13. In addition, the gains rise over time with population growth and aging and the resulting increase in the need for health care.

The bottom line is that the relevant question at present is not philosophical, but practical.

Unfortunately, it’s political. If such things as “data” and “facts” could sway Rick Perry, Ray Perryman would not have needed to write this. You can see Perryman’s press release here, his report here, and his report with tables included here. Via Grits, who reminds us again that the criminal justice system, specifically in how it deals with mentally ill defendants, would also benefit greatly from Medicaid expansion.

Happy talk about Texas employment

2010 was a better year for employment in Texas than 2009 was.

Texas employers expanded payrolls by 20,000 jobs in December, the third straight month the state has gained jobs, according to data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The state gained in most major employment sectors, led by construction, with 8,700 jobs.

“It’s a very positive picture on job growth,” said Mine Yucel, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The state unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in November and 8.1 percent in October. But even that may be a sign of recovery, Yucel said.

To be counted as unemployed, a person without a job must be seeking work. As employers add jobs, some people who had given up looking for work are apt to start trying to find a job again.

“It means people are seeing more jobs out there, and they’re coming back into the labor market,” Yucel said, referring to the rise in the unemployment rate. “As the economy grows, we expect that rate to come down.”

[…]

During 2010 as a whole, Texas payrolls expanded by 230,800 jobs after shrinking by more than 350,000 in 2009.

[…]

“The monthly growth was strong in December, and the year-over-year growth is representative of a solid overall recovery in the Texas job market,” said Waco economist Ray Perryman.

That’s good, and I’m delighted for everyone who found a job this past year. But I wonder, is all this optimism truly warranted at a time when the Legislature is working on a budget outline that might result in 100,000 teacher layoffs, which would be on top of county and city layoffs? Sure, maybe these things won’t happen – maybe the Lege will come to its senses and use the Rainy Day Fund to blunt some of the impact of the shortfall, thus limiting teacher firings to the 10,000 range or so – but how can you not even discuss the possibility when assessing the outlook for 2011? That just doesn’t seem right to me

What today’s budget cuts will mean tomorrow

We know cuts are coming to public education and higher education. Let’s turn once again to Steve Murdock, the former State Demographer who is now a professor at Rice University, to hear what that will mean for Texas’ future.

Texas’ prosperity hinges on education. The numbers are troubling, however. The state ranks 36th in the nation, with just 71.9 percent of students graduating from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. African-American and Hispanic students are twice as likely to drop out as Anglo students. By 2040, at least 30 percent of Texas’ work force will consist of workers without a high-school diploma if current trends continue, Murdock says. “If we don’t close the gaps now, there’s going to be a significant reduction in household income later,” he says.

A high school dropout is more likely to earn poverty-level wages of about $14,500 a year. That’s at least $7,000 less than someone with a high school diploma. The mounting costs for social services and the prison system should worry state leaders. Nearly 75 percent of state prison inmates are high school dropouts. Every year’s worth of dropouts means a loss of $377 million in Medicaid, prison expenses and lost tax revenue, according to the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation.

Another challenge is enrolling more students in higher education. Hispanics trail other students, making up just 29 percent of total college enrollment. In 2000, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board created the “Closing the Gaps 2015” program, with the goal of enrolling 630,000 more Texans in college, including 5.7 percent of the Hispanic population, by 2015.

Enrollment is increasing, but slower than educators hoped. The agency admitted in its 2009 report that it had fallen behind on its goals to recruit more African-American males and Hispanics. One big hurdle is cost. Those who do have high school diplomas struggle to pay increasing tuition rates. More than 60 percent of students apply for student aid. But state-based grant and loan programs like the Texas Grant Program and B-On-Time Loan Program have run out of funding. With an estimated $24 billion state budget shortfall in 2011, it’s doubtful that those coffers will be replenished any time soon. For many, a four-year college degree is already out of reach.

The economic gap will continue to widen if more Texans don’t seek higher education degrees. A person with a college diploma can expect to make $1 million more on average in a lifetime than a person without a high school diploma, says economist Ray Perryman, president of the Perryman Group, a financial-analysis firm.

[…]

The state’s economic health in 2040 depends on whether its leaders today take a shortsighted approach to governing or choose to invest for the long term. With an estimated $24 billion budget shortfall this legislative session, lawmakers will be facing tough decisions that will have a ripple effect for future generations. “I hope that we don’t get into across-the-board cuts,” says Perryman. “When there’s budget cuts, education always seems to take it on the chin. We need some real leadership to prioritize our needs and make some tough decisions.”

If state leaders don’t make those tough decisions now, future generations could be less educated, less economically competitive, have higher levels of poverty and be in greater need of government assistance. It’s up to the state’s leadership and its people to reverse that course.

Sadly, this is the leadership we’ve got, and we all know what to expect from it. This will be Rick Perry’s legacy.

The effect of health care reform on Texas

Here’s an email from the Legislative Study Group, via State Rep. Garnet Coleman, who has been a constant source of health care reform updates:

LSG Policy Update: CBO Estimates of Impact of Healthcare Reform to Texas

With the United States House of Representatives poised to take a vote on health care reform [today], we wanted to provide you with some data on the expected financial impact on Texas state government.

Congressman Henry Cuellar provided us with a letter from Congressman Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Chairman responds to an inquiry from Congressman Cuellar on the fiscal impact of the Medicaid provisions in health reform on the State of Texas.

The House will take two main votes [today]: one on final passage of health insurance reform, and one on a sidecar reconciliation bill that improves upon the main legislation. Taken together, these measures will have an historic impact on our country and especially in Texas where almost 28 percent of the population is uninsured.

One important provision is the Medicaid expansion that will bring a million Texans living at or near the poverty level into coverage. Currently, Texas covers parents with incomes up to 26 percent of federal poverty level (FPL). The legislation will increase that to 133 percent of FPL while covering 100 percent of the costs of new enrollees until 2018, then stairstepping down the reimbursement level to 90 percent by 2020.

There have been various estimates of the proposed impact on the Texas state budget – Congressman Cuellar’s letter sheds some light on the projected state impact as viewed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). To begin with, the legislation under consideration would be in effect for ten years – through the end of 2019 – at which point Congress would have to reauthorize it. Going on the timeline of the bill (2010 – 2019), Texas should expect to spend around $1.4 billion over ten years, the bulk of which would not come until after the changes go into effect, after 2014.

This stands in contrast to estimates by HHSC you may have seen cited in the press that peg the cost at approximately $24 billion. That estimate is on a different timeline: going from 2014 – 2023, or four years past the legislation’s life. It also includes approximately $6 billion in possible cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding that is generally used to compensate hospitals that perform uncompensated care. The HHSC estimate also does not include many of the provisions in the proposed reconciliation improvement bill – for instance, Medicaid DSH reductions are smaller in the Medicaid bill. The CBO projects a $1.2 billion reduction in DSH funds over the course of the legislation (2010-2019).

All told, Texans and Texas state government stand the chance to benefit greatly from federal healthcare reform legislation. Most of the 5.9 million uninsured Texans will gain health insurance, all insured Texans will gain protection from the worst practices of the insurance industry, and Texas will likely receive over $120 billion in federal dollars.

Economist Ray Perryman noted that spending on CHIP and Medicaid has a 3.25 multiplier effect – meaning every dollar spent generates 3.25 times that amount in economic activity. The legislation has the potential to create jobs and boost economic activity in our state while also ensuring the health and well being of all its citizens.

Thank you again to Congressman Cuellar for passing along Chairman Waxman’s analysis. You can view a pdf of the letter here.

So there you have it. Now pass the damn bill already, and let’s get on with it.

Are we recovering yet?

Economist Ray Perryman thinks so.

Texas will be “last in, first out” among states battling the recession, although a recovery that has already started will require patience, a leading economist says.

The Lone Star State proved resilient because of advantages such as weather, stable home prices and a political climate favorable for companies seeking new places to do business, said Ray Perryman, head of the Perryman Group and a longtime Texas economist.

Still, Perryman said Texas has seen its share of difficulty since the state got caught up in the national economic downturn in summer 2008. Job losses mounted last year, and the outlook remains bleak for commercial real estate.

“The long-term story when people look back at it will be one of last in, first out. It’s also a story of us doing a little better than the rest of the country,” Perryman said. “Nonetheless, there’s going to be a legacy of pain. Three hundred thousand people did lose their job, and no one really escaped this.”

I’m not convinced that Texas will lead the way into recovery nationwide, but that’s just a feeling on my part. I’ll be perfectly happy if Perryman is right. Just let me know when we’re actually better off than we were at the time things started to tank.

Opposition to Prop 4

Prop 4, the Tier 1 Universities constitutional amendment, has gotten a lot of support across the spectrum. Any high-profile amendment will always have some opposition, however, and Prop 4 no exception.

A proposed constitutional amendment to help the University of Houston and six other Texas schools raise their national standing has drawn its first announced opposition: college students.

“The base of our argument is, research is not the great deal that university administrators and some state policy makers would make it out to be,” said Tony McDonald, vice chairman of legislative affairs for Young Conservatives of Texas and a law student at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s really not a very good economic bargain for the state.”

[…]

Supporters say more university research projects will be good for the state’s economy. Economist Ray Perryman is set to release his study on the potential economic impact of Proposition 4 today. Margaret Justus, a spokeswoman for Texans for Tier One, said Perryman’s report will dispute the Young Conservatives argument that research spending doesn’t really help the economy.

“We’ve got (support from) people who call themselves strong conservatives because they know strong research creates … great, high-paying jobs,” she said.

But McDonald said he doubts the projected benefits are real, and that much research now done by university faculty isn’t worthy of public support. Instead, he said, universities should focus on teaching.

“I feel that may hurt students at those universities,” he said. “It’s going to be drawing their professors out of the classroom.”
Young Conservatives of Texas has chapters at several schools that could benefit from Proposition 4, including UH, Texas Tech, UT-Dallas and UT-San Antonio. Chapter leaders at those schools didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

McDonald acknowledged that not everyone in the group wanted to oppose Proposition 4 but defended it as a group consensus.

When I think of the YCT, I think of affirmative action bake sales and not serious public policy analysis, so I can’t say I find their opposition to be a matter of concern. Be that as it may, here’s an accompanying article with the case for Prop 4.

A proposed constitutional amendment to boost research at the University of Houston and other Texas schools could create a million or more jobs and add billions of dollars in tax revenues, according to a study released Wednesday by economist Ray Perryman.

“And these are not just 1.2 million regular old, garden-variety jobs,” Perryman said. “Many of these jobs are the finest scientists, engineers doing the most exciting things that you can imagine.”

Perryman was in Austin to promote Proposition 4, which will be decided by voters in November. He was joined by former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and James Huffines, chairman of the University of Texas board of regents, who are co-chairs of the advocacy group, Texans for Tier One.

Their central argument is that building up a handful of universities would pay off in new jobs, innovative research and expanded business opportunities.

“Unquestionably, the jobs of the future are going to follow the brainpower,” Huffines said.

He and Hobby stressed that the proposal will not require new taxes, although Perryman’s report notes that additional state funding likely would be needed to sustain any gains.

You can read Perryman’s report here. I’m sold on Prop 4 – it’s the easiest vote on the ballot, if you ask me – but take a look at that report and see what you think. And you can add the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the list of Prop 4 endorsers. A statement from them about Prop 4 is beneath the fold.

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Lege versus Gov on unemployment funds

Showdown time.

The House committee charged with recommending how to use the federal stimulus money does not see eye to eye with Gov. Rick Perry on the $555 million for unemployment insurance.

In a 5 to 1 vote, the committee on Thursday endorsed enacting the necessary changes to state law so that Texas would be eligible for the money. Earlier today, Perry said Texas should not take the money.

House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts was the only Republican among the “ayes.” Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, voted against the measure and argued that action should be delayed.

[…]

Also, Pitts plans to join Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, as a co-author of a bill that would enact the required legislative changes but allow the extended benefits to expire when the federal money is gone. Estimates indicate the federal money would cover seven years of the additional benefits.

Crownover objected to the vote being today – she says two other members of the committee were in the building but didn’t think any action was being taken. Be that as it may, she hasn’t said she’d reject the funds. And as Phil notes, Texas Workforce Commission Chair Tom Pauken will be working with Reps. Pitts and Parker to craft that legislation. It’s entirely possible to me that the Lege will vote to bypass Governor Perry. Whether they can do it in time to make a veto override attempt is another story. But the stage is set for a rebuke. This will be fun to watch.

Economist Ray Perryman, testifying before the committee, said taking the money is on balance a good deal for Texas. The federal infusion would lessen a tax increase on employers now and would cover the extended benefit for at least seven years.

He added that the unemployment tax does not affect Texas’ ability to compete for jobs. Property taxes and the business tax are much bigger considerations when businesses choose where to set down roots, Perryman said.

Perry is of course simply playing to a small audience – he has a primary to win, after all, and it must be noted that he’s got KBH on her heels right now. The kind of person Rick Perry is trying to please by taking this action is in fact pleased by it. Who cares what the rest of us think?

Here’s a copy of official motion (PDF), which lays out the case for accepting the funds, and a copy of a statement from Rep. Garnet Coleman (PDF), which notes that Texas is already mostly in compliance with the federal law for the funds. EoW, Vince and Vince again, Eileen, McBlogger, and the CPPP have more; I also have a couple of press releases, from Rep. Coleman and State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. By the way, did you know that 32 million people are on food stamps, and one in 11 of them is in Texas? Or that Texas’ unemployment rate is now 6.4% and climbing? Just FYI. Maybe someone should inform the Governor.

UPDATE: More from Texas Impact.

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