After all the tough talk Gov. Rick Perry did regarding the great stimulus rejection of 2009, he had to reject something, but for goodness’ sake – unemployment benefits?
Perry rejected the plan on the premise that it would create a bill for the state later on down the line because of what he would have you believe are completely unreasonable changes to the current unemployment criteria.
Namely, it would allow people who were laid off from a part-time job to actively seek part-time employment while receiving benefits, instead of the currently required full-time. It would extend benefits to recent college graduates who are unable to find work, and laid-off workers with dependents would be allotted a slightly higher benefit than singles. It would also alter the compelling reasons clause for persons who have had to quit their job to include having been the victim of domestic abuse.
Under the current system only one out of five laid-off workers in Texas are eligible for unemployment benefits, the lowest percentage of any state in America according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas forecasted that as many as 300,000 Texans will lose jobs this year. At the current rate of qualification, 240,000 of those people will not qualify for any unemployment benefits.
People have said that these policies are akin to creating a welfare state as though the people who have been laid off from their jobs in Texas are lazy bums. That isn’t the case. These are hard-working people, many of whom have been at the same company for 10 years or more. All of a sudden – from one day to the next – they find themselves cleaning out their desk.
Some are lucky enough to get a severance package that will pad their landing slightly and may extend their health care benefits for some period of time, but others walk away with nothing.
The biggest problem these people face is that it’s not possible to go out and get a job the next day. There is very little hiring going on. Even restaurant and janitor positions, when they open, are inundated with applicants.
These are people who have paid taxes all their life; income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. Don’t they deserve a helping hand in return when they desperately need it to stay afloat?
Rejecting the stimulus funds earmarked for unemployment is like cutting off our nose to spite our face and is a prime example of how partisanship has become a plague to everyday Americans.
Opinion editor Katie Martinez is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.