Point: Rejection of stimulus funding in Texans’ best interest

Everyone knows the economy is not in the best of health, but uncertainty is fanning the flames of recession thanks to every news media outlet scooping doom and gloom on an already paranoid society.

The federal government has used this hysteria to push its budget agenda, attempting to suffocate the recession in taxpayer dollars.

Thankfully, not all politicians are willing to be a government lap dog, and Gov. Rick Perry should be applauded for saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to the almost $556 million for unemployment claims that were earmarked in the stimulus package.

The rationale is simple. With federal money, there are strings attached. Accepting this money would have negated state laws on unemployment eligibility, allowing groups such as college graduates without a work history and persons who have chosen to quit their jobs for “compelling reasons” to claim unemployment.

According to Perry, this money would have run out in as soon as two years. The state would then be stuck with the bill for this increased spending after the stimulus money is gone. Furthermore, the package would create higher unemployment taxes on businesses, which could result in an increase on goods.

On top of all this, the federal government is spending money it does not have, making it all the more vital that states not have red ink on their budget sheets.

According to a December NBC Dallas-Fort Worth story, Texas has an $11 billion surplus – an impressive feat given the economic climate. Making drastic changes is not a good idea.

It really all boils down to two underlying issues. First, accepting the money would be another step toward expanding the welfare state that President Barack Obama seems to so desperately desire, and that is not in the best interest of Texas taxpayers.

Expanding the unemployment benefits only serves to make citizens that much more dependent on government.

Secondly, it would be yet another case of looking to the immediate future instead of investing in the long term, a tactic – used by the last administration as well – that got us into this mess in the first place.

Accepting these unemployment funds would create a bill to be paid at some point, further dumping responsibility on future generations. If Perry had accepted it, he would have left the tab to his successor.

In the new era of responsibility touted by our president, Perry should be applauded. By not contributing to the creation of a welfare state and avoiding the massive debt this plan would create, the governor took responsibility and acted in the best long-term interest of his state’s taxpayers.

Shane Rainey is a sophomore chemistry major from Fort Worth.