Harris County’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program Raises Legal and Fiscal Concerns

February 7, 2024
TFR Staff
Harris County, Taxes, UBI, Welfare

Harris County’s “Uplift Harris” guaranteed basic income program is facing criticism and legal scrutiny from State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R – Houston), who submitted a request for an opinion from the attorney general’s office on the constitutionality of the initiative. Bettencourt questioned whether the new initiative violates state law prohibiting jurisdictions from providing public funds directly to individuals.

What is Uplift Harris?

Launched on January 12th, Uplift Harris aims to distribute $500 per month for 18 months to 1,900 households in Harris County, which would cost taxpayers a staggering $20.5 million dollars. To make matters worse, the program wants more of your money in order to continue with future projects.

Guaranteed basic income programs across the nation have quickly grown in popularity, especially in recent years. This is partly fueled by the popularity of unconditional cash payments initiated as a result of COVID-19 policies. 

Bettencourt’s request for an opinion from the attorney general’s office seeks clarification on the program’s compliance with the state constitution and whether counties have the authority to execute handouts such as this one. 


Regardless of whether or not the program is technically legal, lawmakers and bureaucrats should not squander taxpayer dollars on such a program. 

Uplift Harris, and other universal basic income schemes, are a waste of your money, and in many ways are simply a government-forced, wealth redistribution scheme. Taxpayer dollars should always be used responsibly and in compliance with the law, and not on government giveaways. 

Instead, local government officials should work to put your money back in your wallet,  stop out-of-control spending and taxation and reduce inappropriate regulations, so that Texas families can truly thrive and prosper. 

In the 87th legislative session, taxpayer champion Steve Toth (R – Conroe) filed a bill to prohibit universal basic income programs similar to Uplift Harris. However, the bill never made it out of committee

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