Down in Texas, the temperatures are hovering around record levels of heat this week. Dallas is expected to reach 110°, Austin 108°. Existing without air conditioning will be difficult in such conditions, even for people used to the heat. Yet, the poor in Texas are faced with a dilemma, how do they pay for the extra electricity needed to run air conditioning?
Money already collected to fund a program intended to help poorer Texans pay their electric bills in the more-expensive summer months has been re-routed to assist Republicans in balancing the state’s budget deficit. As a consequence, only 21% of the money intended to aid poor Texans in paying their electric bills has been spent for this purpose. Texas Governor Perry, a Republican, who is considering a run for president, reportedly has indicated his desire to eliminate the program altogether, rather than adjust it to prevent the legislature from diverting the funds from its intended purpose.
Meanwhile, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, across the nation, state governments are eliminating medical insurance coverage, income assistance, jobs programs, food stamps, and many other human services to millions of Americans.
Poorer Americans, including American children, will likely face a much more uncertain existence now, with less regular health care, less food, and fewer job opportunities than they already had in a very difficult employment environment.
And of course, this summer, as wealthy Americans enjoy low taxes and climate-controlled comfort, poor children and seniors will continue to swelter in dangerous, triple-digit heat.