Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 16, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Passes Unemployment Insurance Reform
SB 1569 ensures Texas will receive $556 million in unemployment stimulus funds

(Austin) — Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today praised the Texas Senate for passage of SB 1569, legislation by Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) which will ensure Texas receives $556 million in federal unemployment aid under the economic stimulus plan.

Last month, Senator Ellis was the first co-sponsor of the Eltife legislation and has worked to build a bi-partisan consensus on the unemployment insurance plan.

"I am thrilled that the Texas Senate has stepped up to the plate to ensure Texas gets every penny offered in the economic stimulus plan," said Ellis. "This has been a unnecessarily difficult effort, so Senator Eltife deserves tremendous credit for reaching out and working with his colleagues to come up with a plan that will help thousands of Texas families weather this economic storm."

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Texas economy will lose between 180,000 to 300,000 jobs in 2009, and the unemployment rate is expected to rise from 6 to 8.2 percent. Texas families are hurting and are worried about how they are going to keep their homes and pay their bills. The Economic Recovery Act offers $556 million to Texas to help those Texans who have lost their job or are in danger of soon losing it.

Under SB 1569, Texas will:

"Governor Perry's opposition to extra unemployment aid is the definition of penny-wise and pound-foolish. I doubt Texans think sending a half-billion of our tax dollars to other states while doing nothing to save the state's faltering unemployment trust fund is the best way to pull ourselves from this recession.

The legislation is vital because, without action, by September 2009 Texas' unemployment trust fund could be $749 million below the floor. Two things happen then: an automatic 'deficit tax' will be triggered on nearly all businesses to make up the shortfall; and, funding could end for important economic development programs.