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.

In an effort to promote a number of state and federal assistance programs, including those bolstered by Recovery Act funds, Texas Impact began reaching out to low income communities during the week of November 16th. The need for utility assistance, energy-saving weatherization, and public health care programs is as high as ever, since Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation and lost more jobs than any other state last month.

Click below to learn more about the events.

The first round of Recovery Act reports have been released, and they show Texas ranked 10th among states in the number of jobs created or saved so far, with about 19,600 jobs reported. The reports cover only grants, contracts, and loans awarded so far, so they do not include economic activity created by the tax breaks, entitlements, and unemployment insurance contained in the Recovery Act.

As the $787 billion contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act continues to make an impact nationwide, federal and state officials are working through the challenges of reporting and tracking the funds. The process will be integral to determining the Recovery Act's effects on the economy and the benefits it provides in the areas of housing, energy, health care, poverty alleviation, and more.

The first step is to gather relevant data from all state and federal agencies that are handling funds, a process that is getting under way now as the first of the scheduled quarterly reports are being submitted. The reports will provide basic information about expenditures, subcontractors, and job creation, and the information they contain will be compiled and released to the public between October 12th and October 31st via, the main portal for Recovery Act info on the national stage. That site already has a great deal of information breaking down the anticipated expenditures, including an interactive mapping feature that allows users to input their zip code and see the projects that are in progress in their neighborhood.

Continue reading below to learn more about the reporting and tracking process here in Texas.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will bring more than $290 million to the State Energy Conservation Office to help Texas increase energy efficiency and introduce renewable energy technologies around the state. There is a portion of that amount, however, that will be allocated for a project that has nothing to do with solar installations, energy audits, and the like. Instead, the funds are a part of a program aimed at improving the nation's energy emergency preparedness by helping states strengthen their energy infrastructures against hurricanes, floods, and other disasters.

In Texas, where the initiative is called the Energy Assurance Program, SECO will partner with the Public Utility Commission, Railroad Commission of Texas, and a number of other state entities and utility providers to update and improve the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan (EMP). The total amount Texas will get from the Recovery Act for the purpose of enhancing the EMP and ensuring "quick recovery and restoration from any energy supply disruptions" is $2.5 million. SECO and its partners will use the funds to run simulated exercises, provide new training to staff, and more.

For more information contact Bee Moorhead, Executive Director, Texas Impact, (512) 472 – 3903 or OR Michelle Lee, Good Jobs First, (202) 232-1616 ext. 210 or

A new study of official state websites focusing on the federal stimulus program finds that Texas is among the states that need to improve the quality of their online reporting. “Texas usually excels in online open government, so it’s surprising and disappointing that we are failing on a project of this size and importance,” said Bee Moorhead, director of the interfaith advocacy network Texas Impact.

The Texas finding comes from Show Us the Stimulus, a report released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit research center based in Washington, DC. The full text of the report as well as online state-specific appendices can be found on the Good Jobs First website.

“Many states are failing to support President Obama’s vow that the Recovery Act would be carried out with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability, said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy, “and they are making it more difficult to measure the success of ARRA in mitigating the effects of the recession.”

[Update: The Austin-American Statesman gives its take on the situation and forecasts tax hikes for businesses as a result of Governor Perry's decision.]


The unemployment rate in Texas continued to rise in July, hitting 7.5 percent statewide, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The losses came as the national unemployment rate reached a 26-year high, and they were concentrated primarily in four economic sectors in Texas: Construction, Trade/Transportation/Utilities, Manufacturing, and Professional/Business Services.

The release of the new data coincided with news that Governor Rick Perry requested an initial loan of $170 million—with the option to borrow an additional $500 million later in the year—from the federal government to help pay unemployment benefits despite having rejected $555 million in Recovery Act funds meant to help states cover shortfalls in their unemployment funds. Those funds that were made available to Texas under the Recovery Act were in the form of grants that the state would not have had to pay back, while the current line of credit that Governor Perry has requested will leave the state with an obligation to repay the federal government.

Continue reading below for a full analysis of the unemployment numbers and how the state is planning to provide benefits to jobless Texans.

Interested in knowing where Texas stands in its implementation of its share of Recovery Act funds? How the state stacks up to others around the nation? The timeline for all Recovery Act expenditures? If so, check out Texas Impact's latest report on those and other issues involving the Recovery Act.

Though the Legislature opted to not take proactive steps to institute planning and accountability measures, Texas Impact continues to track Recovery Act funds, state agency actions, and national developments.  Stay tuned all year for Recovery Act updates, links, and success stories.

Legislators began the 81st Legislative Session with the knowledge that an unprecedented influx of federal money was coming, and Texas Impact was there from the beginning, urging the Legislature to take proactive steps that would increase the likelihood that this windfall would provide the maximum benefit to the state. House Gallery

At issue was how best to ensure that funds from the Recovery Act would be spent not just in a transparent manner, but in a way that was transformative as well. Now that the session has ended, we can summarize and assess the Legislature's response to the $15 billion in federal stimulus funds, not to mention the hundreds of billions in additional federal dollars that will be available in the form of nationwide competitive grants. In short, the Legislature failed to take proactive steps, opting to end the session without enacting any special measures to accommodate such an extraordinary amount of federal dollars and without passing a single piece of significant legislation related to implementing or tracking Recovery Act funds.

Continue reading for more about the Legislature's actions in full.

Watch Strama's closing remarks

Rep. Mark Strama delivered brief closing remarks to the Texas House of Representatives after the failure to pass of HB 1569.His remarks came at the end of a marathon five days in the House that culminated in a stalemate between the Democratic and Republican parties over the Voter ID bill.

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