Ken Paxton's lawsuit freezes Uplift Harris County program's $500 monthly payments

Full Stop. Less than an hour before no-strings-attached cash was to flow out digitally to "UpLift Harris" recipients, the Highest Court in Texas closed the coffers - blocking the $500 monthly payments until it hears the case.

"What I heard was 45 minutes, 45 minutes, so it really is heart wrenching," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Uplift Harris: Texas AG Ken Paxton sues Harris County over guaranteed income program

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee characterized as "legally flawed" Attorney General Ken Paxton's claim that the stipends for 1,900 low-income families constitutes an illegal gift from government.

Merits of the case aside, Menefee fears the County faces an uphill battle before the deeply conservative Texas Supreme Court.

"I do not expect that we are going to get a fair shot. But we are going to do everything we can in the courtroom that the legal arguments are made, and this program is protected," said Menefee.

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County Commissioner Adrian Garcia bluntly blamed the legal setback to open Republican animosity toward the progressive policies of a Democratic stronghold.

"Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton just looking to hate on Harris County. Looking to impede on the progress that we are making," said Garcia.

THE OTHER SIDE: Harris County leaders on Uplift Harris lawsuit

But Tom Ramsey, the lone Republican on Harris County Commissioner's Court viewed the intervention as far more pragmatic than partisan.

"The court of public opinion, in terms of people that I have talked to, to the person, think this is a bad idea. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, the feedback to me is, this isn't right," said Ramsey.


But Commissioner Rodney Ellis says investing in a modest "hand-up" for a limited number of benefactors could trigger greater acceptance and ultimately support.

"You hope that if this pilot program goes well, we could make a case to the Congress or to the State or to the taxpayers here to continue it," said Ellis.

The ruling comes as budget analysts for Harris County projected a $76 million deficit for the coming year.