Sometimes, it is an abuse of the word to refer to Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as “leaders,” but call them what you will, they are at it again. With a long list of real-life, major concerns, including public school funding, in serious need of state attention, Perry and Dewhurst are off in political La-La Land, imagining another problem that doesn’t exist.
I am referring to their endorsement yesterday of the “kick-‘em-while-they’re-down” proposal to require Texans who lose their jobs to undergo drug testing before receiving unemployment benefits. It was bad enough that Perry and Dewhurst championed the budget-cutting that resulted in the loss of 25,000 school jobs last year. Now, they want to humiliate teachers and other people seeking a little help while they look for work.
Unemployment compensation is not welfare, folks. To be eligible, you have to have a satisfactory work record and be actively looking for a new job. The vast majority of people seeking temporary jobless benefits have earned their unemployment compensation through hard work. They are not drug-abusers, as Perry and Dewhurst suggest.
The idea of making life even tougher for struggling Texans seems particularly insensitive, coming as it is from a multi-millionaire (Dewhurst) and a double-dipping governor who is paid more than $240,000 a year, including salary and retirement benefits, and lives rent-free in a state-owned mansion.
But both men, it seems, would rather continue to pander to supporters who view government as a profit center for the well-heeled – private school vouchers, lucrative testing contracts, etc. – while weakening the public safety net for everyone else.