From the Star-Telegram:
In recent months, Gov. Rick Perry has savaged the stimulus package, lambasted federal attempts at healthcare reform and hinted at secession because of federal tax-and-spend policies.
A Web site paid for by Perry’s re-election campaign says Washington’s “increasingly pervasive embrace of bailouts . . . must be stopped before it drowns us in debt and destroys our national tradition of self-reliance.” The governor has also said that accepting federal stimulus money would burden the state with programs Texas couldn’t sustain.
Then, on June 19, Perry applauded the state’s “balanced” budget, which he’d just signed, noting that lawmakers had left the state’s Rainy Day Fund untouched and had cut taxes for 40,000 small businesses.
Some people credit conservative fiscal leadership by Perry, who vetoed $288.9 million in spending, and by lawmakers for balancing the budget.
But records show that it was the much reviled federal stimulus money that saved the day.
The $182.3 billion budget did include the first spending decrease since World War II, a trumpeted $1.6 billion reduction. But the budget would have had to be slashed — and perhaps as much as half the money in the Rainy Day account could have been sucked away —were it not for an infusion of about $12.1 billion in stimulus funds. That’s nearly 7 percent of the state budget.
And before the budget writing for the 2010-11 biennium got under way, about $2.3 billion in additional stimulus money was used to plug holes in the 2009 state budget.
Notably, stimulus dollars helped balance the federal/state Medicaid program so that Texas could shift money elsewhere in the budget.
The governor’s press office did not respond to a detailed message seeking comment.
Some conservatives said they would have preferred that the state reject the stimulus funds outright and instead make budget cuts and use the Rainy Day account.
The governor did rebuff $555 million in stimulus for unemployment insurance. Instead, the state went into interest-free debt to cover the unemployed. Perry said accepting the money would have meant higher business taxes.
Despite his disdain for bailouts, Perry made it clear in a February letter to President Barack Obama that he would accept the state’s share. “As I have said during the debate . . . should Congress pass stimulus legislation using Texas tax dollars, I would work to ensure that our citizens receive their fair share,” he wrote.
From POLITICAL WIRE at CQPOLITICS:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), facing a tough primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), left many puzzled when he declared his state was recession proof.
Said Perry: “As a matter of fact … someone had put a report out that the first state that’s coming out of the recession is going to be the state of Texas … I said, ‘We’re in one?'”
Paul Burka of the Texas Monthly: “This gaffe is going to stick. It is going to be national news. It will come back to haunt him in a campaign spot. If Hutchison can’t make something of it, the Democrats can. You cannot be callous and cavalier when people are losing their jobs and their homes. I don’t care how ideological the Republican base is. Unemployment in Texas just reached the 8% mark. Everybody knows someone who is suffering in these times. Everybody has lost part of their life savings. It could cost him the race.”
(Video at link)