Gov. Rick Perry's top appointee to the Texas Workforce Commission has been working with state legislators to try to fashion a bipartisan compromise that would enable the state to accept $555 million in stimulus money from Washington for unemployment benefits without long-term federal strings attached.
Last week, Perry rejected the stimulus money for jobless benefits, contending that it would require the state to permanently expand its unemployment insurance program and subject Texas employers to millions of dollars in tax increases that would ultimately stifle the economy.
But under a proposal by commission Chairman Tom Pauken, Texas would make the mandated changes to accept the money and then revert to current law after the federal dollars run out. Pauken floated the idea at his nomination hearing in February and has since met with lawmakers in both parties to further discuss the plan.
Pauken's efforts were made independently of Perry's office and reflect an apparent difference of opinion between the two men.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is advancing a similar plan in legislation gaining ground in the Senate. Pauken has also been praised by lawmakers who want to overturn Perry's rejection of the money.
The federally mandated changes include extending unemployment compensation to part-time employees and to employees forced to leave their jobs when their spouses get work elsewhere.
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