by Mary Tuma
Last week, the White House gave San Antonio and five other cities 'Promise Zone' classification, granting the city's East Side neighborhood a needed boost in education, jobs, affordable housing and upgrades to public safety, as the Current reported. While those familiar with the area, like U.S. Congressman Joaquín Castro, Mayor Julián Castro and District 2 council member Ivy Taylor, lauded the designation as a step toward repairing low-income communities, Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took the opportunity to attack the measure meant to aid impoverished San Antonians.
“The truth is, we don’t need Barack Obama’s Promise Zones; we already have Promise Zones and they are called entrepreneurs,” Abbott said during a conference luncheon hosted by conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
According to political blog Burnt Orange Report, Cruz echoed his (at least, former) mentor, saying, "All of America needs to be a real 'Promise Zone' - with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs - and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS and rolling back abusive regulations."
In fact, Cities are required to submit a strategic plan detailing how designated areas will team up with local businesses and community leaders to invest in the neighborhood, create jobs, leverage private investment and increase economic activity. In exchange, they receive federal resources (like reducing those bureaucratic barriers and red tape GOPers criticize) to meet the goals. For instance, businesses can receive tax credits for investing in local communities. It's actually the focus on economic development and lack of new federal funding streams that would seemingly make the program more difficult for Republicans to bash, although, some have clearly found a way.
As for Abbott's assertion San Antonio isn't in need of the designation, that, in part, seeks to increase education enrollment and improve public safety — nearly four in 10 adults on the East Side don't have a high school diploma and the violent crime rate is 50 percent higher than the rest of the city, as President Obama noted during his address.