Texas Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Houston's $500 Monthly Payment Program for Low-Income Residents

Texas Supreme Court halts Houston's $500 monthly payments to 2,000 low-income residents, sparking political clash between state and local leaders over program's legality.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Texas Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Houston's $500 Monthly Payment Program for Low-Income Residents

Texas Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Houston's $500 Monthly Payment Program for Low-Income Residents

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily halted Houston's $500 monthly payment program for 2,000 low-income residents, pending further court order and Harris County's response by April 29. The program, called 'Uplift Harris,' was challenged by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued that it violates the Texas Constitution by providing public money to individuals without conditions.

The lower court initially denied Paxton's request for a temporary injunction, but Paxton filed a motion for emergency relief with the Texas Supreme Court, which granted the motion and blocked the payments from being made. The Supreme Court stated that the order was issued 'without regard to the merits' of the case.

Harris County officials had planned to start issuing the payments immediately, but the Supreme Court's ruling prevented that from happening. The first payments, set to go out on Wednesday, are now on indefinite hold. Paxton argues the program violates the Texas Constitution's prohibition on giving public money to individuals, and that the county's use of a lottery violates the state's equal rights provision.

Why this matters: The case has become politically charged, with Paxton and his allies making claims about voter fraud and the program being a 'socialist experiment' by Democrats. The lawsuit is the latest rift between state and local leaders in the Houston area, where Democrats have gained political ground in recent years.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee expressed disappointment with the court's decision, calling it 'extraordinary' and 'political.' "The courts are becoming increasingly politicized, and we're not going to get a fair shake from the Texas Supreme Court," Menefee said. The county plans to continue fighting the case and consider how to reallocate the $20 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act in a way that will help people.

Key Takeaways

  • Texas Supreme Court halts Houston's $500 monthly payment program for 2,000 low-income residents.
  • Texas AG Ken Paxton challenged the program, arguing it violates the state constitution.
  • The court's order was issued 'without regard to the merits' of the case.
  • Paxton claims the program is a 'socialist experiment' by Democrats, a politically charged case.
  • Harris County plans to continue fighting the case and reallocate the $20 million in funding.