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Texas Supreme Court orders Harris County to not make payments under guaranteed income program

The Texas Supreme Court ordered Harris County to not issue payments under its guaranteed income program until Attorney General Ken Paxton's fight against it is adjudicated.

The Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling Tuesday that prohibits Harris County from launching a guaranteed income program which is currently being disputed by Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The decision comes just days after Houston County Judge Ursula Hall struck down Paxton’s arguments that the Uplift Harris program, which distributes monthly stipends to over 1,900 low-income residents, is unconstitutional.

"If the program does include a public benefit, it does not violate the constitution," the Houston Landing reported Hall as saying.

Paxton’s attorneys argued that taxpayer money must be used in the public interest for a general benefit.

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The Harris County Commissioners Court passed Uplift Harris last year by a vote of 4-1.

The guaranteed income pilot would allow participating households to receive $500 per month for 18 months. The program began on Jan. 12, and currently has 1,924 applicants enrolled.

Paxton filed a lawsuit seeking an immediate ruling to block Uplift Harris from making payments under the program, which the Texas Supreme Court granted.

"Without regard to the merits, the court grants an administrative stay as follows: Real parties in interest and their agents are prohibited from making payments under the Uplift Harris program pending further order of this Court," the ruling read.

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UpTogether, an organization with a mission of investing in people in historically undervalued communities by influencing policies and mobilizing systems for change, responded to the court’s ruling on Tuesday, calling the decision "shameful."

"Today’s shameful decision means thousands of Texas residents facing financial hardship will be denied an opportunity for financial stability and upward mobility for the unforeseeable future," UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena said. "By blocking Uplift Harris, the state Supreme Court has tossed aside any notion of judicial restraint and joined Ken Paxton’s ongoing circus show, in which he continues to use people’s day-to-day survival as a political football."

Gerena added that what Paxton was doing "is cruel, it is deceitful, and it is opportunistic."

Still, Paxton continues to fight against what he says is unconstitutional.

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"I’m pleased the Supreme Court of Texas has blocked Harris County from disbursing these unlawful payments," Paxton said. "I look forward to continuing to defend our Constitution and preventing this egregious misuse of taxpayer money."

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in February that migrants are living in poverty, "supporting them helps all of us and has good downstream effects on all of us."

After hearing the news that payments would not be able to go out immediately, she said her heart "breaks" for the families.

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"This is the state once again trying to bully Harris County, and these families are getting caught in the middle," Hidalgo said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "The Attorney General has known for a year that we had this program coming, so we really were surprised to see them try to block it once we had already selected and notified the recipients. I’ve already heard stories of people who were expecting these funds and I hate having to give them contradictory information every day, but I can say that we are going to keep fighting."

Harris County has until April 29 to respond to the emergency motion for relief to the Texas Supreme Court.

Joshua Q. Nelson of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

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