Money for Nothing in Harris County, Houston


HOUSTON, TX — Residents in Harris County and Houston now have the opportunity to receive financial support through the "Uplift Harris County" program. Under this initiative, spearheaded by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Harris County Commissioners' Court, eligible individuals residing in specified zip codes or identified as having priority needs by the county could be randomly selected to receive $500 per month for a duration of 18 months.

Funding for the program stems from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus and pandemic recovery package signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021. Harris County was allocated a substantial portion of these funds, with approximately $20.5 million remaining for distribution.

Despite the absence of a specific time limit within the legislation, Harris County faced pressure to disburse the surplus funds. As a consequence, "Uplift Harris County" was conceived to direct financial assistance to nearly 2,000 households living below 200% of the federal poverty line.

However, this initiative has drawn criticism, particularly from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has filed a lawsuit against Judge Hidalgo, the commissioners, and the county health department. Paxton alleges that the program violates the Texas Constitution, specifically Article III, Section 52(a), and Article I, Section 3, which prohibit the granting of public funds or valuables to individuals.

Paxton asserts that the program constitutes an "illegal guaranteed income scheme" and challenges the constitutionality of the arbitrary lottery system used to select recipients. He contends that such distribution methods lack accountability and fail to serve the public interest.

Paxton has requested a temporary restraining order to halt fund distribution pending resolution of the lawsuit. Additionally, he seeks attorney's fees should the court rule in favor of the state.

A screenshot from the music video for the song, "Money for Nothing," recorded by the Dires Straits and released on  June 24, 1985.

A screenshot from the music video for the song, "Money for Nothing," recorded by the Dires Straits and released on  June 24, 1985.

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