A Dallas Morning News story today highlights a critical issue that’s being either ignored or swept under the rug by Texas legislators and Gov. Rick Perry. According to the Texas Legal Services Center, the last month has seen thousands of Texans applying for food stamps who’ve been ignored by their state government. The story says:
Last month, more than half of new food stamp applications from metropolitan Dallas and Houston languished beyond a 30-day processing deadline required by law. Statewide, one-third weren’t handled in timely fashion last month, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Austin late Friday.
The Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman, Stephanie Goodman, said the recession and Hurricane Ike have caused an overload on the states’ infrastructure.
Regardless of excuses, deputy director of Texas Legal Services, Bruce Bower, said “it’s unacceptable for nearly 60,000 households a month to be applying for food stamps in desperation, and not receive prompt word on whether they qualify.”
Adding to the drumbeat, Celia Hagert, a nutrition expert with the CPPP, said that recent events such as the recession and Hurricane Ike cannot be blamed for the current situation, since the system has been failing to meet federal timeliness standards for three years.
Why does this matter? Well, it’s all a bit ironic, considering Rick Perry has been marching around the state saying how great the Texas economy is and how we have a $9 billion surplus. Need a reminder? Here’s a graf from his Washington Times op-ed from last week:
For example, our just-concluded legislative session yielded a balanced state budget, tax relief for 40,000 small businesses, and it left $9 billion unspent for future state needs.
I guess I’m unclear about what our future needs are, if they aren’t Texans who are forced to go hungry? I understand that he has to campaign right now to keep his job, but can we reevaluate our priorities for a second and take care of our own?