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Texas Attorney General Challenges Harris County Guaranteed Income Program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken legal action against Harris County, filing a lawsuit on Tuesday to challenge the county's guaranteed income program aimed at aiding low-income households. Paxton argues that the program, which promises $500 cash payments to nearly 2,000 residents over 18 months, constitutes "illegal and illegitimate government overreach."





The lawsuit contends that Harris County's initiative, funded with $20.5 million from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act earmarked for COVID-19 relief, violates the Texas Constitution. Paxton's office emphasises that the state constitution prohibits the distribution of public money or benefits to individuals by any political subdivision.

Paxton criticised the program, characterising it as an unconstitutional use of taxpayer funds for political gain. He expressed concerns that the initiative lacks accountability and does not ensure a general benefit to the public.


Under the Harris County programme, eligible participants must have a household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty line and reside in specific high-poverty zip codes. Paxton argues that the program's random selection of recipients is arbitrary and fails to guarantee that public funds are used responsibly or effectively.

In his legal filing, Paxton labelled the initiative the "Harris Handout" and condemned it as a "socialist experiment" driven by county officials. The lawsuit underscores the state's commitment to preventing the misuse of public funds and protecting against favouritism in government spending.


The Attorney General's office seeks to ensure that Harris County adheres to the law and allocates public funds in a manner that benefits all citizens, avoiding what Paxton described as the distribution of taxpayer money as "door prizes at the voting booth." The outcome of this legal challenge will likely impact ongoing discussions about the role of government in providing financial support to vulnerable communities.

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