Seeking final passage of his bill drawing down federal money for the unemployment compensation fund, Sen. Kevin Eltife argued that taking federal money – despite the strings attached – is a good deal for Texas employers and will actually save them money. By October, the unemployment insurance fund will be nearly broke, requiring the state to borrow $2 billion to maintain payments to the increasingly large numbers of unemployed Texans. With the federal money, the state will only have to borrow $1.5 billion, saving employers $80 million in interest. While the feds are requiring the state to cover more workers– including those working part-time – the state will have the opportunity to revert to current law. And the federal money will cover the increased expenses for the next nine years.
Conservative Republicans Steve Ogden and Bob Deuell helped Eltife make his case today. Ogden noted that he “finds it offensive” that the federal government is dictating how the state operates its unemployment insurance fund, and added an amendment that clarifies that the states does not agree to “unfunded federal mandates.”
Deuell argued that the bill was “pro-family” since many part-time workers choose not to work part-time so they can spend more time with their families. He voted for Eltife’s bill, though he noted: “it is always difficult to go against our friend, the governor.”
Gov. Rick Perry has opposed taking the stimulus money for the unemployment insurance fund: anti-tax groups and business groups lobbied hard against Eltife’s bill.