For immediate release: March 22, 2011

For more information contact Bee Moorhead, 512-636-3136 or

available online at

“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”

Advocates Say Legislature Should Still Care About ARRA

On May 11 at the House Appropriations committee meeting, Speaker of the House Joe Straus told committee members that they should balance the 2011-2012 biennial budget with no new taxes.

Straus argued that federal income taxes will be too high in the coming years due to declining revenue and growing population; therefore, it would be in the best interest of the people of Texas to keep state taxes low. He said that "every cost savings idea must be on the table" and said that the 5% budget cuts that Gov. Perry mandated this biennium are just the beginning.

On April 7th, Texans reserved more than $23 million in rebates for energy efficient appliances, exhausting the State's Recovery Act funding for the program in a matter of hours.  The program provides rebates for consumers who purchase an ENERGY STAR appliance during a two-week period later in April, and it provides for increased rebates when the old appliances are recycled.

As Americans rush to fill out and send in their taxes before April 15th, they are finding relief from the Recovery Act.  The average tax refund so far this year is $3,036, up ten percent from last year.

The Recovery Act's most well-known tax provision provided up to $800 in tax relief for all workers making up to $250,000, but other benefits included credit for first-time homebuyers, students, and the unemployed.  A full list compiled by can be seen here.

The House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization will hold a joint hearing with the House Urban Affairs Committee in Dallas on Tuesday, March 30, to dicuss the Weatherization Assistance Program, which was infused with $327 million in Recovery Act funds.  Legislators will tour a weatherized home in the morning and then invited and public testimony on the administration and effectiveness of the program.

The meeting will be held at Dallas City Hall at noon.

On the one-year anniversary of the Recovery Act, the Center for Public Policy Priorities provides an overview of the impact of the legislation on employment in Texas and makes recommendations as Congress considers proposals to protect existing jobs and create more jobs.

The full report, which details Recovery Act effects on job creation and calls for more fiscal relief for states, can be downloaded in .pdf form.

Governor Rick Perry, Lt Gov. David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus recently ordered state agencies to make a 5 percent cut in their budgets, as the state is staring at a potentially huge budget gap when the Legislature returns next session. For the Department of Public Safety, that will mean almost $15 million in cuts, with more than $10 million of that chunk coming out of border security operations. Luckily, Recovery Act funds allocated to prevent such cuts in law enforcement operations will save jobs and keep supporting the work of local sheriffs working along the border.

Meanwhile, the budget gap is looming large on the minds of state and local government officials, and some groups are calling on the federal government to continue the Recovery Act aid that is keeping many states afloat. The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a think tank based in Austin, has sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to provide more of the Medicaid and education funding that closed 98 percent of Texas' budget gap last session. That gap could be as much as $17 billion when the Legislature returns in January of 2011.

The education, homeless assistance, and career development sectors all got a significant boost from Recovery Act funds in the last quarter of 2009, according to reports released on More than 28,000 jobs were created or saved between October and the end of the year due to contracts and grants stemming from the Recovery Act, with a majority of those jobs created by grants for education entities, including Head Start and Early Head Start programs and special education. The reports cover only grants, contracts, and loans during the last quarter of 2009, so they do not include economic activity created by the tax breaks, entitlements, and unemployment insurance contained in the Recovery Act.

Keep reading for more on the jobs, the data, and the programs.

Syndicate content