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TEXAS

Texas

State Recovery Act Website: http://window.state.tx.us/recovery/

Texas's state Recovery Act website scored 15 out of 100 possible points (ranking 34th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. Texas's state recovery website is hosted through the State Comptroller's Office webpage and states that an expansion of the site is planned. The poor score reflects the fact that the state only included a breakdown of spending by broad and narrow categories and some information on state agency websites. Contractor information: none.

Texas scored better-40 out of 100 (ranking 22nd)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's transportation data website, run by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), includes a map of individual projects, descriptions of projects, contractor award amounts and names, the expected duration of the project as well as the portion completed, and an indication that the information has been updated within the last month. The website contains a link to a page where businesses may register for stimulus workshops for minority and small businesses in the construction industry. Contractor information: available here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Texas appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

 

Coordination & Oversight

Texas has not published an official plan for use of stimulus funds. The state's use of ARRA funds is being coordinated by the Select Committee on Stimulus Economic Stabilization Funding, chaired by state Representative Jim Dunnam. The Committee is charged with monitoring the "actions of the federal government, including legislation and regulations, related to efforts to promote economic recovery by providing federal funds to the states. " The Select Committee's website also makes available Rep. Dunnam's updates and Committee documents. This site will likely not be a location for contract reporting.

The state Comptroller, Susan Combs, has expressed concern that ARRA spending is moving too quickly and with too few guidelines to effectively track its uses. Rep. Dunnam has echoed this sentiment. Strong transparency legislation composed by Texas Impact was championed by Rep. Dunnam in HB 2942 and passed in the House unanimously before dying in the Senate.

Policy Debates

After initial claims that the state would reject ARRA funds, Gov. Rick Perry accepted full ARRA funding with the exception of $555 million in unemployment insurance funds. The state's unemployment insurance fund is in dire straits, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities anticipates that it will be bankrupt by October at current rates of depletion. Rep. Jim Dunnam is one of Perry's most vocal critics on this issue.

State school district leaders are organizing to protest the inclusion of stimulus funds in the state budget for education programs, which they argue should already be funded without ARRA money. They have called on the Secretary of Education to intervene on the issue.

There are a number of larger conflicts over transportation money in the state. $700 million has been slated for toll road projects, which critics argue is an inappropriate use of the funds. This is connected to opposition to Gov. Perry's Trans-Tex corridor, a network of toll roads. Many groups have coalesced over this issue. There have also been indications that some road and bridge projects adopted by TxDOT could be denied federal approval for not giving priority to economically distressed areas, although Rep. Dunnam insists that TxDOT is operating within ARRA guidelines. The state legislature closed without providing full funding to TxDOT and will likely reconvene for a special session to pass additional transportation bonds.

In August, Sen. Hutchinson chided TxDOT, Gov. Perry, and the Trans-Tex corridor idea as it seeks to turn over large tracts of Texas land to a foreign private company to build toll roads. TxDOT continues to defend the proposal. A report released by Smart Growth America found that Texas is spending just 0.5 percent of its ARRA transportation allocation on non-motorized projects and nothing on public transit. By comparison, 46 percent is being spent on new highway capacity and 51 percent on preservation of the existing highway system. Texas received the second largest allocation of stimulus transportation dollars.

Last updated on: 15 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
24,326,974

Median Household Income:
$47,548

Unemployment Rate:
8.0%

Poverty Rate:
16.3%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$16.3 billion

Watchdog Groups

Center for Public Policy Priorities

TexPIRG (Texas Public Interest Research Group)

Texas Impact

Resources

The Center for Public Policy Priorities has published a number of press releases, statements, and testimonies averaging two to three pages in length. In July it issued a report called It's Getting Hot in Here that examines the impact of ARRA's increased weatherization funding in Texas.

The Texas Recovery Plan, March 2009; online here.

Texas Impact worked extensively on accountability issues related to ARRA during the state's legislative session. Blog postings and other resources are available on its website. (Navigate to "Federal Economic Stimulus (ARRA)" on the left hand menu under "Issues".)

In July, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an update on their tracking activities; online here.

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