Arkansas Local News

Uplift Harris Program: Texas Supreme Court’s Ruling Sparks Controversy

The Uplift Harris program in Harris County, which was intended to give $500 monthly subsidies to over 1,900 low-income households for a period of 18 months, has been suspended by the Texas Supreme Court.

This ruling, which comes in a succinct three-line format, stops the county from making payments under the program going forward. The American Rescue Plan Act, which provided funding of about $20 million, was used to support households that fell below 200% of the federal poverty threshold.

Attorney General Ken Paxton asked for emergency intervention on the grounds that the program is in violation of the Texas Constitution, which forbids giving public cash as gifts to private entities.

Harris County authorities were disappointed and upset when Paxton’s request for a stay was granted by the Texas Supreme Court, despite the fact that a state trial court and an appeals court had earlier rejected his case.

Christian Menefee, the county attorney for Harris, voiced concerns about the politics of the legal system and his skepticism about getting a just verdict.

Menefee explained that the payments were still being processed and had not yet been finalized, with about 300 homes awaiting completion of their documentation, notwithstanding County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s declaration that the first payments had been given.

An outspoken advocate for the program, Commissioner Rodney Ellis, criticized the court’s ruling as an offensive assault on low-income families. He denounced the court’s involvement as detrimental to individuals in need and promised to keep fighting for the program’s participants.

Menefee is optimistic about the county’s legal appeal despite this setback, and she anticipates hearings on the program’s constitutionality in the upcoming weeks. In the event that the decision is not favorable, the county will reevaluate how best to allocate the $20 million to help its most vulnerable citizens.

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