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Rick Perry: Texas' Equal Pay Debate Is 'Nonsense'

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Bill Clark via Getty Images
Bill Clark via Getty Images

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) dismissed the clamor surrounding equal pay in Texas' race to replace him as governor.

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Perry claimed that current state laws already address the issue, calling the current debate "nonsense."

"Why do we need to muddle up our statutes when we already have laws on the book that clearly take care of this?" Perry asked.

Perry's comments arrive as the equal pay issue continues to reverberate between the two candidates vying for his seat in 2014 -- Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R).

Last week, the San Antonio Express-News released a report showing Abbott's female attorneys general are paid about $6,000 less on average than men in the same position. The Houston Chronicle later unveiled a similar report on Davis' office, finding that female staffers are paid around $3,000 more on average than men.

"Stop hiding behind your staff members," Davis said Monday at a speech in Austin, Texas. "Stop hiding behind your surrogates. This Texas gal is calling you out. Act like a Texan and answer this question for yourself: What on earth is going on at your attorney general's office?"

Abbott also vowed last week that he would veto any equal pay legislation resembling the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, citing similar logic as Perry did regarding Texas' current laws on the books. On Monday, Davis pointed to her equal pay bill that passed in the Texas state Senate, calling for changes on pay discrimination lawsuits. That bill was vetoed in June 2013 by Perry.

Despite that move, Perry said Tuesday that all women have his support, pointing to some prominent female leaders in Texas. Among the key women working with the governor are Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry and Perry Chief of Staff Kathy Walt.

"I mean, I probably got more female chiefs of staff than anybody in Texas history," Perry said on "Morning Joe." "And the fact is, they get paid well because of the performance that they do."

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