FAMILY ECONOMIC SECURITY


The center works to identify and define the issues facing Texas' large low-income population. Whether it's documenting the actual amount of money it takes to support families' basic needs in every metropolitan area in Texas, or chronicling the real compromises working families make in order to survive, the center provides the data and the stories behind low- and moderate-income Texans.

Recent Family Economic Security Publications

Census Data Show Only Beginning of Texans' Growing Need (09/29/2009)

Austin, Texas â€" American Community Survey (ACS) data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that more than 3.7 million Texans lived in poverty in 2008, with children hit the hardest. Because Texas entered the recession later and experienced lower rates of unemployment than the nation through most of 2008, the newly released data reflect only the very beginning of the recession’s impact on Texas. Due to the steep rise in the state unemployment rate in 2009, the current number of Texans living in poverty likely exceeds the 2008 estimates. Attached are tables showing local data for congressional districts, counties, and metro and rural areas.

Is Texas the Envy of the Nation? New Study Gives Texas an Overall Grade of "D" on Financial Stability (09/21/2009)

Austin, Texasâ€"The Center for Public Policy Priorities today highlighted a new report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) that gives Texas an overall grade of “D” in assessing how families are doing financially. Texas is “trailing behind the rest of the country in health care, education and asset-building policies and outcomes.” CFED’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranks states on Businesses & Jobs, Education, Financial Assets & Income, Health Care, and Housing & Homeownership.

Labor Day Update: Texas' Unemployment Insurance System (09/6/2009)

With the unemployment rate reaching 7.9 percent in July, coupled with a decrease in job creation, Texans face greater financial hardships, with many unable to pay their mortgages, afford health care and provide for their family’s basic needs. With unemployment on the rise, more Texans turn to the unemployment insurance (UI) system for financial relief to bridge the gap between jobs. Unfortunately, fewer than 35 percent of unemployed Texans became insured during the first quarter of 2009 â€" maintaining Texas’ ranking of 50th in the nation. Despite a low recipiency rate and a lower unemployment rate compared to the rest of the nation, the chronically insolvent UI Trust Fund ran dry after only six months of elevated claims. The Trust Fund now faces a gigantic deficit heading into 2010, billions of dollars in future debt service, and higher employer rates for years to come.

This Policy Page provides an overview of the Texas labor market and the state of the unemployment insurance system.

Congress Must Not Leave Any Wounded American Worker on the Economic Battlefield (09/3/2009)

If the First Infantry suffered 9 percent wounded, while the Second Infantry suffered “only” 7.9 percent, sending medicine to the First Infantry, but not the Second, would make no sense. Every wounded soldier deserves help. And, if the Second Infantry is bigger than the First, sending help to the Second would be even more important to the strength of the army. Yet, HR 3404 (McDermott) and S 1647 (Reed) propose to trigger an additional 13 weeks of critically important Emergency Unemployment Compensation for unemployed American workers based upon state unemployment rates. Unemployed workers in 28 states, including Texas, would not get help because of state rates below the trigger. This approach is unfair to American workers and counterproductive for the national economy. Congress should help workers in all states equally.

It's Getting Hot in Here (08/3/2009)

Texas Weatherization Assistance Program Provides Relief to Low-Income Families and Creates Jobs for the New Economy

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Texas will receive $327 million in additional Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funds through 2011. The new funds will increase the number of homes weatherized in Texas to between 30,000 and 35,000 homes, up from 4,173 in 2006. Weatherization helps low-income communities by making their homes more energy efficient, thereby reducing the cost of utilities and homes from extreme weather conditions. Weatherization also enhances the value of a family’s primary asset â€" their home. This policy page provides background on the Texas WAP and explores how ARRA funds can prepare more Texans for jobs of the future, meet consumer demands, and improve the quality of life for low-income seniors, persons with disabilities, and families with children.

SB 1569 on House Calendar Wednesday! (05/19/2009)

Unemployment is high and continues to rise. As of May 5, more than 353,000 Texans were receiving unemployment benefits, more than triple the number of Texans receiving UI benefits a year ago. SB 1569 by Senator Eltife is on the House’s Major State Daily Calendar for Wednesday, May 20, 2009. SB 1569 strengthens our UI system to protect unemployed Texans and qualifies Texas for $555 million in federal funding to reduce UI taxes for employers. The bill also provides a vehicle to extend unemployment compensation for about 70,000 Texans who will otherwise exhaust their federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) beginning in July. The federal government would pick up the entire cost to extend UI for these Texans, delivering more than $250 million in federal funding for the Texas economy.

Texas Legislature Must Act to Extend UI Benefits for 70,000 Texans--Paid for Entirely by Feds (05/14/2009)

As of May 5, more than 353,000 Texans were receiving unemployment benefits, more than triple the number of Texans receiving UI benefits a year ago. Currently pending in House Calendars, SB 1569 strengthens our UI system to protect unemployed Texans and qualifies Texas for $555 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for our UI Trust Fund. But the Legislature has overlooked an entirely separate pot of money in the ARRA that is equally important. About 70,000 Texans are expected to exhaust their UI beginning in July 2009. ARRA will pick up 100 percent of the costs to extend UI for these Texans, bringing about $250 million in federal funds into the Texas economy with no strings attached.

CPPP Congratulates Texas Senate for Unemployment Insurance Vote, Urges Swift Passage by House (04/20/2009)

Austin, Texas---The Center for Public Policy Priorities today applauded the Texas Senate for passing CSSB 1569, which will help modernize Texas’ unemployment insurance (UI) system. The Texas House of Representatives must now approve companion legislation before it can be sent to the governor for his signature.

CPPP Congratulates Texas Senate for Unemployment Insurance Vote, Urges Final Passage (04/17/2009)

Austin, Texas---The Center for Public Policy Priorities today released the following statement applauding the Texas Senate for taking steps toward repairing and modernizing the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system. CPPP also released an analysis of the benefits of UI modernization for each Texas Senate district. Last night, the Senate approved CSSB 1569 on second reading, paving the way for its final passage in the Senate.

Good Debt, Bad Debt, and Upward Mobility: An Analysis of San Antonio's West Side Families (04/13/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities and the Annie E. Casey Foundation share the belief that to secure positive futures for children, we must help their families and communities provide the needed resources and supportive environments. This paper analyzes the data collected by Making Connections-San Antonio about the debt, credit, and assets of low-income families living in the West Side of San Antonio, Texas. Based on these data, we recommend policies to increase savings rates and provide low-income, urban families in Texas access to short-term capital to meet unexpected needs while creating a regulatory environment for credit services, including payday loans and automobile title loans.

Modernizing Texas’ Unemployment Insurance System: Testimony to the Senate Committee on Economic Development (03/30/2009)

Unemployment Insurance (UI) helps keep Texas families and the state economy afloat in tough times. This public structure is weaker than it should be. The legislature can make modest improvements in the system to help more Texans remain active participants in the economy when they lose their jobs. Texans need this public structure more than ever, with state unemployment up 52 percent since the beginning of the recession.

The Texas Recovery Plan (03/25/2009)

Public structures such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Unemployment Insurance were created to help families in tough economic times and to help the economy recover from a down cycle. These are indeed tough timesâ€"we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Tragically, many Texans are becoming aware for the first time of the crumbling nature of many of our public structures, weakened by years of neglect when times were good. Now that times are tough, we find our systems unprepared. Fortunately, though, the new federal economic recovery law makes resources available to help repair and improve these systems, which will in turn energize economic activity and get Texas on the road to recovery.

But, Texas will only get the federal fundsâ€"and the needed improvements to our public structuresâ€"if state policymakers make the right choices, soon.

Modernizing the Vehicle Asset Test (HB 1625): CPPP Testimony to the House Committee on Human Services (03/19/2009)

Reliable means of transportation are essential for families trying to get to and from work, and they are especially important for out-of-work Texans trying to find employment. Current asset tests for determining eligibility for public benefits unfairly penalize Texan families for owning reliable means of transportation. CPPP staff recently offered testimony in support of updating Texas' asset tests to ensure that needy individuals and families get the help they need and still have transportation.

Governor Needs to Let the Legislative Process Work Regarding Unemployment Insurance (03/12/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities today issued a statement from Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor, Jr., in response to Governor Rick Perry’s suggestion at a press conference that Texas should turn down more than $555 million federal recovery dollars for Unemployment Insurance.

Modernizing Texas' Unemployment Insurance System: Invited Testimony to House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding (03/10/2009)

Unemployment Insurance (UI) helps keep Texas families and the state economy afloat in tough times. This public structure is weaker than it should be. The legislature can make modest improvements in the system to help more Texans remain active participants in the economy when they lose their jobs. Texans need this public structure more than ever, with state unemployment up 49 percent since the beginning of the recession. This presentation details the challenges facing our unemployment insurance system and the opportunity presented by the federal recovery law to strengthen and improve our UI system.

HB 482: Testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock (03/10/2009)

HB 482 creates a pilot program to test one innovative approach to improve access to fresh produce in currently underserved communities. By providing small retailers in low-income neighborhoods with the assistance to stock fresh produce, and establishing a senior farmer’s market nutrition program, HB 482 has the potential to increase healthy eating, lower the incidence of diet-related diseases, support local growers, and inform future state and federal nutrition policies.

CPPP Supports Emergency Designation for Unemployment Insurance Reform (02/27/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities today praised a proposal made to Governor Perry by Senators Rodney Ellis, Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Leticia Van de Putte, and Representative Joe Deshotel, to designate reform of the Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) System an emergency issue to be considered by the 81st Legislature. The legislators included their proposal in a letter to the governor on February 24, 2009.

CPPP: Texas Lawmakers Should Seize Opportunity to Fix Unemployment Insurance (02/25/2009)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities today urged state policymakers to draw down available funds for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in the federal recovery law. The center highlighted an exchange yesterday between Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) regarding the counterproductive effects of states forgoing money for UI:

BERNANKE: If unemployment benefits are not distributed to the unemployed, then they won't spend them and it won't have that particular element of stimulus.

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): So if this was done on a wide basis, it would be counterproductive, not productive?

BERNANKE: It would reduce the stimulus effect of the package, yes.

Texas Economy and Families to Receive $5-$6 Billion if Texans Claim EITC (02/18/2009)

“Many Texas families are confronting financial hardship as recession grips our nation, making it vitally important that all those eligible take advantage of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit…. For a family struggling to pay medical bills, stave off foreclosure, or keep up with household expenses, Earned Income Tax Credits can be a crucial lifeline….” (HR 193)

As the nation’s most successful anti-poverty program, the EITC helps working families meet basic needs and provides a platform for their financial stability and success, while also acting as a powerful stimulus on local and state economies. Texans can apply for the EITC online using the IRS’s Free File service or by visiting a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.

SB 1: Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee (02/16/2009)

Federal Economic Recovery Legislation and Texas (02/13/2009)

Today, Congress released the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provides $789 billion to stimulate the economy. Many of these measures will also help protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn. To take full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package and set our economy on the road to recovery, Texas must plan immediately. We applaud Speaker Joe Straus for appointing the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, charged with monitoring federal action and suggesting to standing committees needed steps to qualify for federal economic recovery funds. This paper summarizes the portions of the bill that affect the state budget.

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