During these tough economic times, Texas employers are working harder than ever to move products to market, make payroll and create jobs. The last thing they need right now is government burdening them with higher taxes and expanded obligations.
That is exactly what the unemployment insurance stipulations in the new federal stimulus bill will do, ultimately increasing the burden borne by Texas employers and directly affecting the people they hire (and those they won't be able to hire as a result).
On Thursday, after thoughtful and thorough review of the federal stimulus legislation, I stood up for Texas employers and the millions of Texans they employ to express my resistance toward further government intrusion into their lives by opposing the federal government's push to expand our state's unemployment insurance program.
In recent weeks, I have heard from hundreds of Texans on this issue. Most of those who have written share my belief that this particular part of the stimulus package is wrong for Texas.
They share the sentiment echoed by a Katy employer who says: "Texans would be exchanging a short-term relief package for a long-term burden. Think of it as a payday loan with usurious rates to be paid by employers — one which would never be paid in full."
I couldn't agree more, and am deeply concerned about the belief taking hold across our country that thinks the best and only way to solve our nation's problems is to drown them with taxpayer dollars without considering the consequences. This belief is deeply troubling and, quite frankly, irresponsible.
Changing the terms of Texas' unemployment program will not only cause employers to change their hiring practices, it will also increase their tax burden for years to come, leading to higher-priced products and hindering their ability to overcome the current economic challenges.
As governor, I represent all of our citizens: Texas workers, the employers who create their jobs as well as those folks who are looking for work.
I want all Texans to be confident that our current unemployment system stands ready to help in times of need. In fact, Texas recently accepted stimulus funds — with no strings attached — that will provide additional unemployment benefits through the end of this year.
A Sulphur Springs resident who once lost his job and was unable to find work for more than a year recently wrote to me saying, "I know what (unemployment) is like — I've been there and I still think limits are a good thing."
Unfortunately, the limits needed in this legislation are lacking. Never before has the federal government taken such efforts to micromanage the way states spend their funds or structure their programs. I cannot in good conscience allow these strings to tie down Texas employers who create jobs.
By freeing up employers to succeed in the marketplace, Texas has also freed them to create the million-plus jobs our state has gained in the past six years alone.
We cannot abandon the proven practices that brought Texas to the forefront of the national economy.
As governor of this great state, I will not permit the strings attached to these funds to strangle an economy that leads the nation in exports and Fortune 500 companies, and created 80 percent of the jobs in the United States in 2008.
Because Texans prefer a paycheck over an unemployment check, we will hold fast to our principles of limited government and responsible spending and continue to cultivate an economic climate that decreases burdens on employers, attracts investment and creates jobs for Texans.
This will give our state the best chance to succeed in the months and years to come.