Texas Attorney General Sues Harris County Over “Guaranteed Income” Program

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Sues Harris County Over “Guaranteed Income” Program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against Harris County, claiming that the county’s “guaranteed income” program violates the Texas Constitution. The program, announced by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in 2023, aims to distribute $500 cash payments to 1,928 eligible residents selected through a lottery system. The funds for this program come from the $20.5 million the county received through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, which was intended for COVID-19 relief initiatives.

However, the program has faced criticism for its potential violation of the Texas Constitution. The constitution explicitly prohibits the granting of public money or any valuable thing to individuals by any political subdivision of the state. Harris County’s program, which provides cash payments with no conditions, control over expenditure, or guarantee of public benefit, goes against this constitutional provision.

Furthermore, the program’s eligibility criteria, which includes certain classifications of noncitizens, has sparked additional backlash. The lottery-based selection process of recipients is seen as arbitrary and inconsistent with the principles of equal rights outlined in the Texas Constitution.

Attorney General Paxton argues that taxpayer money should be spent lawfully and used to advance the public interest, rather than being redistributed without accountability or a reasonable expectation of a general benefit. He asserts that the program is unconstitutional and aims to prevent Harris County officials from misusing public funds for political gain.

To access the full filing of the lawsuit, click here.

Source: Texas Attorney General Office

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