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HomeNewsTexas Senator Condemns Plan to Give Poor Residents $500, Says It's Unconstitutional

Texas Senator Condemns Plan to Give Poor Residents $500, Says It’s Unconstitutional

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Judge Lina Hidalgo giving a speech during the launch of ‘Uplift Harris’
Source: Lina Hidalgo/X

A senator in the state of Texas disagrees with a new initiative by the Harris County legislature. The new policy plans to give poor residents a monthly bailout of $500 t

Any resident of Harris County, which also covers Houston, will have to scale a preliminary vetting to qualify for this bailout. However, the Senator in question feels the initiative is illegal. 

To drive home his point, the Senator has called the Attorney of Texas to declare the scheme unconstitutional. According to his argument, it is wrong for the state to give such sums to poor people without any strings attached. If services or goods are changing hands, yes. The Senator feels that if the people receiving such a bailout do not pay back in any way, then that is the height of illegality. 

The agitator is none other than state Sen. Paul Bettencourt. He has taken it upon himself to write the Attorney General of Texas about the constitutionality of the poverty alleviation scheme. In a January 12 letter to that effect, Bettencourt asks the attorney general if counties can take such liberties under the law. 

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Uplift Harris is the name of the bailout fund scheme. Bettencourt probably wrote his petition to the attorney general immediately after getting a whiff of it. It turns out that Uplift Harris started accepting applications from potential beneficiaries on the same day Bettencourt sent his petition letter. 

Despite Sen. Bettencourt’s concerns, analysts have revealed that Uplift Harris is not the first of its kind in the United States. On the contrary, many other cities in the country have long started something similar. Uplift Harris is a guaranteed basic income scheme; here, the most vulnerable households in the county receive $500 for 18 straight months. 

Between January 12 and January 14, Uplift Harris received a total of 48,000 applications. Also, to prevent the scheme from draining Harris County’s money, local officials are funding the program with the $20 million COVID-19 relief. This relief is a residue of the federal government’s palliative from the pandemic lockdown. 

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However, to clarify that he is not out to Witchhunt Harris County, Bettencourt has come out to make an official statement about his petition. According to him, it is a very good cause to want to help the impoverished. However, are the methods legal, and is the scheme sustainable?

To drive home his point, Bettencourt pointed out a section of the Texas Constitution to drive home his point. That section prevents the state legislature from giving any County authority to give out taxpayer money in the aid of an individual. 

Likewise, during Bettencourt’s statement, he said, “They cannot create new law themselves. And I don’t see anywhere since I’ve been in office that the state has granted them authority to have a program like Uplift Harris.” 

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Another hole that Bettencourt picked in Uplift Harris is how it plans to select beneficiaries. The scheme will award guaranteed basic income to households residing in zip code areas with the highest poverty rates.

Now, who gets to pick the 1,900 most impoverished? Also, what happens to the poor people who reside in the high-income zip codes of Harris County? Finally, Bettencourt wonders what happens after the $20 million fund runs out. 

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