Third Stimulus Check: One State Could Possibly Drop New Stimulus Checks
A Texas Democrat has renewed a push for $350 stimulus payments for certain residents in the state, aiming to alleviate any financial burdens that the February winter storm may have caused for households.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D) resurfaced the bill, which fell flat during the final hours of the state legislature, calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to add “the topic of payment assistance to ratepayers” to a special session since “it is the very least we can do.”
“At its peak, Winter Storm Uri left close to 4.5 million homes and businesses without power, killed more than 100 people, and caused an estimated $295 billion in damage. The storm will become the single biggest insurance claim event in state history. It will be a stain on Texas forever,” Gutierrez said in a letter to the governor. “The Senate did its part to reprice the unprecedented and unacceptable rate hikes and worked diligently to get a $350 check for every ERCOT ratepayers, but the House chose to take care of the multi-billion dollar utility companies and leave Texas families out in the cold once again.”
The legislation would send $350 direct payments to ratepayers in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, the state’s main power grid, to help pay for “broken pipes, spoiled water, lost work, or home damage,” according to the state senator.
Nearly 70 percent of Texans lost power at some point during the storm, according to a study by the University of Houston, and those who lost electricity ended up losing access for an average of 42 hours.
Roughly 111 people died due to the impacts of the storm, and the damage done could make it “the costliest disaster in Texas history.”
Many Texas have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but lawmakers have encouraged residents to first file claims through their existing insurance policies.
Texas city-owned electric utilities and private companies reportedly received a bailout from the government due to financial strains and piled bills after the severe impacts of the winter storm, a measure that serves as a key point in Gutierrez’s arguments, as he insists that “ratepayers saw little,” according to a press release.
“You have made clear that you intend to call the Legislature back into special session to address election integrity, redistricting, and allocation of federal assistance, but our job will not be done until ratepayers are taken care of,” Gutierrez wrote to Abbott. “To do anything less will result in a de facto tax on the 26 million Texas customers let down by ERCOT.”
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.