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Peter J. Ognibene

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Rick Perry: A Record to Run on -- or Run From?

Posted: 08/14/11 11:24 PM ET

In declaring his presidential candidacy in Charleston, SC, on Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry made clear that he is running on his record of 10 years in office.

But an objective look at the state of the State of Texas suggests he would be better off running away from his record.

In his announcement in Charleston, Perry said,

Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America. Now think about that. We're home to less than 10 percent of the population in America, but forty percent of all the new jobs were created in that state.

Yet in its ongoing report, Texas on the Brink: A Report from the Texas Legislative Study Group On the State of Our State, members of the Texas House of Representatives provided these employment-related statistics from their state (where 50th is the lowest and 1st is the highest):

  • Average Hourly Earnings of Production Workers on Manufacturing Payrolls - 38th

  • Government Employee Wages and Salaries - 24th

  • Percent of Workforce that are Members of a Union - 41st

  • Workers' Compensation Coverage - 50th

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is not impressed with Perry's record as a job creator:

He's cutting services in order to maintain really low tax rates, and so many of the jobs he's created are these minimum-wage jobs, not these living-wage jobs. I think he has, as they would say here in Texas, plenty of 'splaining to do about his positions.

No matter. In the magical world envisioned by Gov. Perry, "we'll create jobs and we'll build wealth, we'll truly educate and innovate in science, and in technology, engineering and math."
His record on education, however, belies his rhetoric:

  • Average Salary of Public School Teachers (2009-2010) - 31st
  • Current Expenditures per Student - 38th
  • State & Local Expenditures per Pupil in Public Schools - 44th
  • State Aid Per Pupil in Average Daily Attendance - 47th
  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores - 45th
  • Percent of Population 25 and Older with a High School Diploma - 50th
  • High School Graduation Rate - 43rd

On health care, Gov. Perry said he would,

send a message to Washington that we're taking our future back from the grips of central planners who would control our healthcare, who would spend our treasure, who downgrade our future and micro-manage our lives....

And we will repeal this president's misguided, one-size-fits-all government healthcare plan immediately.

What would he put in its place? The numbers from Texas under his leadership read like an Rx for anemia:

  • Percent of Population Uninsured - 1st
  • Percent of Non-Elderly Uninsured - 1st
  • Percent of Low Income Population Covered by Medicaid - 49th
  • Percent of Population with Employer-Based Health Insurance - 48th
  • Per Capita State Spending on Mental Health - 50th
  • Per Capita State Spending on Medicaid - 49th
Health Professionals per Capita:
  • Physicians - 42nd
  • Dentists - 39th
  • Registered Nurses - 44th

Much of his declaration in Charleston focused on the dreaded T word. "I've cut taxes," he said. "I have delivered historic property tax reductions. I was the first governor since World War II to cut general revenue spending in our state budget."

Yet, the Texas Legislative Study Group found that taxes in Texas are far from fair and balanced:

  • A 2009 study named Texas' tax system as one of the ten most regressive states in the nation.
  • A 2009 study found that Texas requires families in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale to pay more than three-and-a-half times as great a share of their earnings in taxes as the top one percent.
  • The poor in Texas pay 12.2 percent of their income in taxes, the fifth highest percentage in the country.

Just before declaring his candidacy, Gov. Perry said, "I full well believe I'm going to win."
Judging from his record in Texas, that sounds less like a promise and more like a threat.