Correcting the Record on Texas Governor Rick Perry (Part 2)

| September 1 2011
Greg Conterio

This is part 2 of Garnet92‘s excellent Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry.

For Part 1, please go here.

 5. The jobs created in Texas have all been low paying jobs. Texas’ average wage is much lower than the national average.

That statement would imply that most Texans are working for minimum wage and endure a quality of life below that of other states.

The statement is factually wrong.

The critics who make that statement haven’t done their homework, they don’t care, they want to believe the accusation since it fits their meme. As Ronald Reagan said, “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Even if it were true, isn’t a low paying job in Texas better than being jobless in another state?

Here are some facts: On August 17 2011, Richard Fisher, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave a speech in which he separated “fact from fiction” about the record of job creation in Texas. Following are some excerpts from his speech:

Texas Job Growth is Indisputable: These are the facts. You may select whichever metric you wish. Regardless, it is reasonable to assume Texas has accounted for a significant amount of the nation’s employment growth both over the past 20 years and since the recession officially ended.

Most new jobs are unrelated to the oil and gas sector: “The most jobs have been created in the educational and health services sector, which accounts for 13.5 percent of Texas’ employment. The second-most jobs have been created in the professional and business services sector, which accounts for 12.5 percent of the Texas workforce. The mining sector, which includes support activities for both mining and oil and gas, employs 2.1 percent (yes, two-point-one percent) of Texas’ workers.”

Most New Jobs Pay Good Wages: “…these jobs are not low-paying jobs. The average weekly wage in the education and health services sector is $790; in the professional and business services sector it is $1,117; and in the mining sector, the average weekly wage is $2,271. Together these three sectors account for 68 percent of the jobs that have been created in Texas in the past two years.” Here is a link to Mr. Fisher’s full speech.

Mr. Fisher quotes weekly wages for the 68% of jobs created. Annualizing $790/week is $41,080, $1,117/wk is $58,084, and $2,271/wk is $118,092 when annualized. Hardly “low wages.”

You can check out the actual data for yourself at Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (the source of the statistics quoted by Mr. Fisher). Be aware that dataset is massive, but it downloads your selected groups into Excel files that can be “sliced and diced” in many different ways.

If Texas has only been creating only low wage jobs, please explain how the statewide median income is still $48,259? A “building & grounds maintenance” person in the Dallas area earns a median annual income of $20,530 and a “food prep and serving” employee earns a median income of only $17,900, not counting tips (both figures from BLS). The massive number of low paying jobs must really be pulling down the Texas median income. Imagine what the $48,259 would be if not for the thousands of “poorly paid individuals.”

Having a job is only one part of the Texas quality-of-life equation – the other significant part is Texas’ low cost of living. The Cost of Living (COL) index takes into account prices on a variety of basic goods and services, including housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and transportation, as well as nonessential expenses like movie tickets and newspapers. These disparate costs of living can mean that a salary in one city has a far different value than the same amount of money in another city.

While it is true that Texas median household income ($48,259) is less than some states like California, New York, and Connecticut, the state does fare well when the income is adjusted by the Cost of Living (COL). When the COL is factored in, Texas’ median household income ($53,009) exceeds California by $8,550, exceeds New York’s by $10,403, and Connecticut’s by $1,532. These are 2009 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reported in a U.S. News article. Note that those figures are based on median income (a midpoint, with as many above as below).

Here is a direct comparison illustrating how much the cost of living affects one’s standard of living. Let’s look at two cities, Los Angeles and Dallas. When Dallas is compared to L.A., here is the result: “The cost of living in Dallas is lower than the cost of living in Los Angeles. If you make $100,000.00 in Los Angeles and move to Dallas, you will only need to make $62,862.55 ($37,137.45 less) to maintain the same buying power.” The comparison is from Inflation Data.com  where you can compare two selected cities against one another.

And here’s another objective, authoritative comparison:

Texas is ranked third among “Best States to make a living.” The ranking is based on an Adjusted Average Income value which considers taxes, housing, and cost of living. Texas’ average is $41,427. Compared to Massachusetts: $38,665, Minnesota: $37,721, and California: $29,772 just to compare a few. This from CBS MoneyWatch, April, 2011. 

And here is another interesting tidbit, Texas places two metro areas, Houston ($60,634) and Dallas ($59,217) among the top ten metro areas in the nation with the highest real income. Real income is the median household income adjusted by the COL. Compare those figures with a couple of other large metro areas from the bottom ten: New York ($35,370) and Los Angeles ($41,331). The figures are from a June, 2011 analysis by the U.S. News  using latest available (2009) data.

And what about wages? Texas has seen wages climb faster than the country overall. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for employees in Texas rose 7.4% between May 2008 and May 2010 (the latest data available). For the nation as a whole, average wages climbed only 5%. This from Investors.com.

Finally, here is a new link, just added due to its excellent analysis of Texas jobs and unemployment. It is an excellent read that digs into the correlation between unemployment, job growth, and people moving to Texas. It’s called “Political Math.”

So, contrary to the poverty implied by the original criticism, the standard of living in Texas isn’t as bad as the “low paying” statement (if true) would indicate – the accusation is just an another attempt to diminish the job creation achievement, Texas’ standard of living, and by association, Governor Perry. And don’t worry, all of us “po’ folks” in Texas will manage.

6. Texas ranks poorly in educational spending and high school graduations

That statement is partially true. Texas does rank near the bottom of some generalized rankings in spending per student and high school graduations, but as usual, those rankings alone are misleading. The statement is intended to imply that the state does a poor job of educating its students and therefore its Governor, Rick Perry is to blame. It’s just another two-for-one Texas/Perry smear.

With Perry as governor, how does education in Texas really compare with other states?

Well, here’s one example: On August 18, 2011, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan  attacked the performance of Texas schools, and therefore indirectly, Governor Perry. The only problem is … Texas schools do markedly better than the Chicago school district that Duncan actually ran as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Here’s a link to Duncan’s tirade.

Duncan actually referenced a “massive increases in class size in Texas” during Rick Perry’s time in the governor’s office. But, class sizes actually went down. Duncan didn’t even bother to check his “facts” before blasting Texas (and Perry). Everything you ever wanted to know about Texas schools is available here on  Texas Education Association’s website. Duncan could have saved himself some embarrassment if he had checked his “facts” first.

The obvious political purpose was to attack a Republican challenger to his boss, which, if he is defeated, would put Duncan out of work.  Dallas Morning News’ editorial writer Rodger Jones offers another motive: Perry’s refusal to join Duncan’s Race to the Top.  Perry balked at the program as part of his general opposition to federal interference in state jurisdiction, which Jones calls “political,” but offers it as a reason that Duncan would want to make Texas’ education efforts look deficient. But included in Jones’ expose of Duncan’s charges, there is more – for instance:

Texas is ranked 13th in Education Week’s Quality Counts report. Quality Counts gave Texas an “A” in “Standards, Assessment and Accountability,” and an “A” in “Transitions and Alignment” of the Texas system with college and career readiness.

In 2009, Texas ranked 7th in a 26 state comparison of the only states reporting four-year on-time graduation rates. That year Texas’ on-time graduation rate was 80.6%. The Texas on-time graduation rate for 2010 is now 84.3%, an amazing 3.7 percentage point increase in a single year on the dropout indicator.

The Texas class of 2011 posted a record-high math score on the ACT college entrance exam. The Texas average math score was 21.5 and was higher than the national average of 21.1. See the full text for yourself at a Hot Air posting of the Dallas Morning News article.

Now to get more specific – namely, a direct comparison between Texas and Wisconsin schools.

We chose a comparison to Wisconsin because earlier this year, during their sit-ins and demonstrations, Wisconsin teachers compared their state’s (supposed) #2 ranking in ACT/SAT test scores directly to Texas (which they pegged at #47). Their reason for comparing to Texas was that Wisconsin teachers are unionized while teacher unions are illegal in Texas. This direct comparison was intended to show the benefit of unionized teachers in educating our children.

However, those rankings were found to be: 1) obsolete, using 12-year-old data, and 2) used questionable methodology. The ranking was debunked by PolitiFact and the claim has since been removed from the union’s website, in other words, they stretched the facts to fit their agenda.

One point that must be considered when comparing Texas to other states is the racial makeup of the student population. Minority students – regardless of state – tend to score lower than white students on standardized tests, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be. Regardless of the reasons, the gap does exist, and it’s mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) to a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).

But let’s even ignore that mismatch and compare them anyway – broken down by racial groups. We’ll compare some 2009 standardized test scores (the latest available) for 4th and 8th grade students in the areas of math, reading, and science. A pilot program for 12thgraders is being tested, but national comparisons are not yet possible for that grade. The data supporting the following rankings are found at the Nation’s Report Card website (link below the rankings).

2009 4th Grade Math

White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math

White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

2009 4th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science

White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science

White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

To recap: white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, and Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade.

Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohorts in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8. That bears repeating: Texas fourth and eighth graders outperformed the national average scores in all categories.

Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin.

In other words, students perform better in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.

The above statistics and narrative was taken from Iowahawk’s great blog site (but they have been verified against the Nation’s Report Card site which was their original source). Read Iowahawk’s complete analysis HERE.

And here is a link to the Nation’s Report Card site – the original source of the data so you can compare and contrast any other state(s) you’d like to see.

About the website:” The Nation’s Report CardTM informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. It communicates the findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a continuing and representative measure of achievement in various subjects over time.

NAEP is a congressionally authorized project of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.

And lastly, this little publicized fact, Texas owns the top two spots (#’s 1 and 2) in the America’s Best High Schools list (Newsweek, June 2011), 5 in the top 25, and has 19 of the top 100 best high schools in the country. How can it be that Texas, with about 8 percent of the country’s population, places 19 schools in the top 100 high schools in the country (that’s 19 %)? Here’s a link to the Newsweek article  [be aware that the site has some display formatting problems, you'll have to scroll down to see the schools, but the data is all there, it's just in need of some TLC].

Is Texas leading the nation is education spending or achievements? No, the state must do better. No one in Texas is satisfied with our current level of achievement. Like any parent, in any state, we want the best for our children.

But Texas isn’t really the educational cesspool that the original accusation would imply – in fact, Texas is doing fairly well when actual achievements are compared to national averages. Is Rick Perry responsible? In some small measure, he is. Just as it would be wrong to credit Perry with all of Texas’s achievements, it would be just as wrong to assume that all of Texas’ problems are his fault. As governor, he certainly did contribute to both good and bad aspects of Texas life.

7. He is squishy on immigration

There is some truth in that. His stance against Texas adopting an Arizona-style immigration law was initially troubling to many conservatives even though his point was that it would be better to force the federal government to enforce the border since that is one of their primary responsibilities. A true statement, but one easier said than done.

He did add a bill prohibiting Sanctuary Cities as an emergency item in the regular session and added it to the call during the special session, but there wasn’t enough resolve in either the legislature or the Governor to overcome the business lobby that was adamantly against the bill. It died in the last special session. It was disappointing to conservatives that the Governor didn’t call another special session to continue the fight, but he maintains that It would have been a waste of taxpayer money to call another special session on an issue that lawmakers would not take action to pass – twice. The governor says that he will continue to support the prohibition of  sanctuary cities in the future.

Some have said that when Perry said that the Arizona law “wasn’t the right direction for Texas,” he was taking a position against strict enforcement of immigration laws. Not so – what he actually said was, “I fully recognize and support a state’s right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas.” His concern was related to the portion of the Arizona law that required peace officers to inquire about citizenship status. Perry believes that the best solution is to allow officers the discretion to ask if they deem it necessary to carry out their duty.

“Texas has a rich history with Mexico, our largest trading partner, and we share more than 1,200 miles of border, more than any other state,” Perry said. “As the debate on immigration reform intensifies, the focus must remain on border security and the federal government’s failure to adequately protect our borders. Securing our border is a federal responsibility, but it is a Texas problem, and it must be addressed before comprehensive immigration reform is discussed.” Texas has allocated more than $400 million in state funding to secure the border since 2005. In the last legislative session alone, $152 million was earmarked for border security.

Perry has also adopted the National Governor’s Policy, part of which states:

  • Federal immigration policies should ensure that new immigrants do not become a public charge to federal, state, or local governments.
  • The federal government must provide adequate information to and consult with states on issues concerning immigration decisions that affect the states.
  • States should not have to incur significant costs in implementing federal laws regarding immigration status as a condition of benefits.

See the full National Governor’s Association policy on immigration here.

In the final analysis, Governor Perry says that the nation cannot have effective immigration policy until the border is secure. Today, the border is not secure and this is where we need to focus our resources.

Here’s a link to On The Issues which has more references to Perry’s statements on immigration-related subjects (too many to include here):

Perry gets a “D-” from NumbersUSA

Many engaged conservatives are considering the pros and cons of the current group of GOP candidates and they’re check-marking mental boxes for each of the issues that they deem important. When immigration comes up, and it often does, a grade from a specialized and credible source like NumbersUSA can help or hurt a candidate. A number of readers have brought up Perry’s grade and are concerned about his “D-“ issued by that group. It is what it is … but wait … it could change. NumbersUSA updates the grades weekly, adjusting grades by the candidates most recent statements and actions so the grades are subject to change.

As of 8/17/2011, NumbersUSA has given Rick Perry a grade of “D-“. Mitt Romney also gets a “D-“, and for what it’s worth, Ron Paul gets an “F.” President Obama gets an “F-“ – an F-minus? I certainly would agree with the grade given Obama – or maybe it should be a “P-,” for “present”?

Though not (yet) running, Sarah Palin gets a “D” and Herman Cain gets a passing “C-“. The only leading candidate for the GOP nomination to get a good grade was Michelle Bachmann with a “B-“. Those are the headlines.

Time to look a little deeper. How did they arrive at a grade and what are the components?

For one thing, NumbersUSA grades the candidates on what they say, and to a lesser degree for what they’ve done. The following is from their website:

These are not Report Cards on past actions, which matter but not as much as what these politicians now say in the news media or on official websites. These grades and ratings are about what a Hopeful says a President should do about immigration. We look at contradictions and changes in stances. We generally give the most weight to the most recent statements and actions.

So NumbersUSA is grading the candidates on their latest rhetoric? Words speak louder than actions? Their grades are based on what the candidate says they would do (or wouldn’t do) as President? That doesn’t seem to set a very high bar. I’m not saying that any grades would be any different – I don’t know, but it seems like a record of votes or bill signings (or vetoes) represents something solid as opposed to a statement made up of a carefully selected, politically beneficial series of words.

If the candidates know that they only have to talk a good game why wouldn’t they just voice some promising rhetoric – calculated to achieve a good grade and leave it at that? Barack Obama has never been held accountable for his campaign promises, has he? I recognize that is a cynical position, but they are all politicians aren’t they?

For his part, Rick Perry is graded poorly on two items: “mandating e-verify,” which is defined as:

Jobs held by illegal aliens SHOULD be opened up for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants already here by REQUIRING all businesses to use the Federal automated, rapid-response internet E-Verify system to screen out illegal foreign workers.”

And “Limit Unfair Worker Competition,” which means:

The government should institute SAFEGUARDS that will prevent importation of foreign workers any time they would threaten the jobs or depress the wages of American workers.”

Perry comes across as “middle of the pack” when compared to the others who are also seeking the Presidency. Only Bachmann stands out. While Perry does grade fairly well on four (of the 12 components), he is given an “unhelpful” (“null”) on the remaining six.

I know that readers will want to see for themselves all of the other details of the NumbersUSA ratings, so here is a link to the NumbersUSA website and to the specific page for Presidential ratings. While on the Presidential page, you can click the candidate’s image at the top of the column to get more detail on which the grade is based.

8. Perry is a member of the Bilderberg cabal and therefore believes in a New World Order (NWO). That is reason alone to eliminate him from voting consideration.

Governor Perry did attend a Bilderberg meeting in June, 2007, and now some say (mostly Ron Paul supporters) that he is their hand-picked candidate for the job of POTUS in 2012. Since attending four years ago, his detractors would have us believe that he’s been studying his Bilderberg bible, taking classes in New World Governing, and polishing his Illuminati lapel pin. Does this mean that the Bilderbergers are ready to dump President Obama (who they also supposedly put in office) in favor of Rick Perry?

This is a Texas-sized Conspiracy theory – appropriate for the Governor of Texas. 

Here are some hard facts about the Bilderberg Group. The group (named after the Dutch hotel where they first met) was founded in 1954. Started by Denis Healey, Joseph Retinger, David Rockefeller and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, they aim to bring together financiers, industrialists, politicians and opinion formers to discuss problems facing the western world. There are no “members” of the Bilderberg Group, only attendees.

Every year they meet, away from the intrusive eyes of the press. The confidentiality enables people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions. Attendance is only by invitation of the steering committee. They network, eat, drink, play golf and return home. At each meeting, a broad cross-section of leading citizens are assembled for nearly three days of informal and off-the-record discussion about topics of current concern especially in the fields of foreign affairs and the international economy.

It is a small, flexible international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced. Bilderberg’s only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued. Since 1954, fifty-nine conferences have been held. After each meeting, the names of the participants as well as the agenda are made public and available to the press.

Invitations to Bilderberg conferences are extended by the Chairman following consultation with the Steering Committee members. Participants are chosen for their experience, their knowledge, their standing and their contribution to the selected agenda. There usually are about 120 participants of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labor, education and communications. Participants attend Bilderberg in a private and not an official capacity.

Following are a few of the prominent persons attending one or more Bilderberg meetings over the years; the list is intended to illustrate the varied positions, background, and political views of those who have participated (only USA participants are listed):

Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford, John Bolton, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Timothy Geithner, Paul Volcker, Terry McAuliffe, Ben Bernanke, David Rockefeller, Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfield, ABC anchor Peter Jennings, William F. Buckley, George Stephanopoulos, Mort Zuckerman, Thomas Friedman, George Soros, Senators Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Diane Feinstein, Tom Daschle, Chuck Hagel, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Corzine, and Governors Mark Sanford (SC), Mark Warner (VA), George Pataki (NY), Christine Todd Whitman (NJ) and Kathleen Sebelius (KS).

It’s common for many CEO’s of large corporations to be present at the meetings. For example, the CEO’s of Amazon, Alcoa, Coca Cola, Fannie Mae, Facebook, Ford, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Pepsico, Time Inc. and the Washington Post have all attended Bildergerg meetings. Even Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher (G.B.) attended a Bilderberg conference.

Here is a LINK to conference meeting dates, locations, and agendas, and this LINK will take you to the “Latest Meetings” tab. Simply select the year and click on “Participants” to see who attended.

Some say that they secretly control the world’s governments; they seek the world’s destruction so it can be rebuilt more perfectly. They have long infiltrated nearly all aspects of American society, business and government and they are bent on establishing a New World Order. The appeal of this theory is its utter vagueness and total flexibility based on location and government. Basically, the conspiritists believe that anyone in power is probably doing something super secretive and deadly right now that’s designed to increase the suffering of the masses and bring more wealth and power to the elite. It goes without saying that there’s no proof of any of this, but then, that’s the appeal of conspiracy theories.

And what about Perry’s attendance violating the Logan Act? For those not versed on such matters: “The Logan Act  (18 U.S.C.A. § 953 [1948]) is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from “negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.” Because the language is so broad in scope, legal scholars and judges have suggested that the Logan Act is unconstitutional. Historically, the act has been used more as a threat to those engaged in various political activities than as a weapon for prosecution. In fact, Logan Act violations have been discussed in almost every administration without any serious attempt at enforcement, and to date there have been no convictions and only one recorded indictment.

It is ludicrous to accuse Perry of “negotiating” with “other nations” just as it would be to accuse the other participants, like ABC anchor Peter Jennings, William F. Buckley, or George Stephanopoulos of “negotiating with foreign governments.” They attended a conference with other influential people, that’s the extent of it. Find something else to worry about.

No one is saying that the movers and shakers who have attended the conferences don’t have an impact on our world, just look at the people who attend – they are among the most influential and powerful individuals in every category – of course they have an impact. But these people will have influence on our lives because of who they are and the power they hold, not because of any blood oath to the Bilderbergers. Frankly, the United Nations (UN) is probably a bigger threat to our republic than the Bilderberg group.

Only in science fiction (and conspiracy theories) can someone like Rick Perry be turned into a mind-numbed robot following the Bilderberg’s nefarious instructions to take over the world … instructions that they somehow implanted in less than three days … four years ago … right.

 

9. Perry turned down $555 million in federal stimulus,  yet later asked for federal disaster aid for Texas wildfires

That’s true. The reason that Perry gave for refusing that particular “stimulus” was that it was a one-time, temporary influx of money to assist in covering extended unemployment benefits, but had strings attached (the most serious was that the funding would only last about two years). After that, the state would have to find a way to continue the higher payments covered by the federal funding. In other words, it was a one-time, kick-the-can-down-the-road temporary funding that didn’t permanently fix anything and would leave Texas liable for replacing the $555 million when the federal money ran out. Instead Perry got a federal loan to cover the state’s unemployment fund shortfall. While a loan still must be repaid, it didn’t come with the extra burden of federal mandates that accompanied the $555 million stimulus funding. Thus, he avoided the federal meddling that was part of the original stimulus while still shoring up the state’s unemployment fund.

It is true that Governor Perry did accept part of the $787 billion Recovery Act money and used those funds to cover the state’s budget shortfall. Perry has never said that he would never accept federal funds, he has just been careful to decline when the funds came with unacceptable federal intrusion in state affairs attached.

Relative to the wildfires: Over 2.2 million acres of Texas land in 252 counties were lost to wildfires in 2011 due to severe dry conditions caused by drought. Across the state, hundreds of homes and countless livestock have been lost. As a result, Texas Governor Rick Perry requested a Major Disaster Declaration (MDD) and federal emergency funds to assist in fighting the ongoing fires. President Obama refused to issue a Major Disaster Declaration, originally requested on April 16, and instead provided lesser federal assistance for fires fought only between April 6 and May 3, 2011, covering just a fraction of the fires fought in Texas so far this season.  A Major Disaster Declaration would have made the state eligible for much more response and recovery assistance from the federal government. Major Disaster aid is an entirely different type of federal aid and is specifically designed to assist states when natural disasters occur. Many in Texas believe that the MDD was withheld for political reasons.

It is hardly hypocritical to refuse federal funding with unacceptable strings attached while requesting federal disaster aid when a natural disaster occurs. It is the federal government’s responsibility to provide disaster relief, one of the few things they have an obligation to the states to fulfill.

10. Perry says he has not raised taxes, but he has

When Perry states that “we don’t raise taxes.” That’s such a broad generalization that it can’t possibly be 100% factual. And it is not. Perry has raised about half a dozen taxes during his tenure, including three 2006 changes that helped cover reductions in school property taxes, being essentially revenue neutral. He also signed into law tax increases on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, fireworks, and diesel equipment. He also implemented a change to the business franchise tax law that increased the franchise tax that businesses pay to operate in Texas – that was an actual business tax increase.

Another tax that has gone up on his watch is the unemployment tax that is paid by Texas businesses. While the tax rate fell steadily from 2004 through 2008, the rate rose in 2009 and 2010 largely due to the national economic downturn. However, the state unemployment rate is set automatically based on the balances in the state’s unemployment fund and is independent of any gubernatorial action, thus Perry is not liable for that one.

Perry has managed to keep taxes low during his 10-year tenure as governor. Countless opportunities to raise taxes presented themselves during Perry’s ten years as governor, yet he resisted the temptation. Texas was ranked 49th among the states in per-capita taxes, at $1,434 a year in 2005, according to a 2009 Census Bureau report and a Texas Public Policy Foundation analysis  (Feb., 2011) shows Texas with a 7.9% combined state/local tax burden, ranking it 45th among the states – for comparison, New York’s burden is 12.1%.

After 10 years in office, with ample opportunities to raise taxes, Perry has maintained an enviable record as a low-tax governor. 

Currently, Texas imposes no tax on personal income or capital gains. Perry remains opposed to a Texas state income tax and recently vetoed a proposed Internet state sales tax. Perry supports a balanced U.S. budget and a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In his first veto of the year, governor Perry vetoed the Internet sales tax bill (HB 2403). That’s just one more reason for Texas’ low cost of living. Many other states have already enacted new laws to require all Internet sellers to collect a state’s sales tax (regardless of nexus) and others are feverishly getting on the bandwagon – drawn like a moth to a flame – to grab and spend this new source of previously out-of-reach revenue.

11. Perry has presided over the highest number of executions in the nation

Be aware that I used the term “presided over” because that’s the way that several critical comments characterized Perry’s position. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perry did not “preside” over the trials, nor the jury’s decisions, nor did he act as judge. He did not preside over the multitude of appeals that are common in capital cases and he was not part of court decisions that denied a new trial. He was simply in office when these events occurred. He could issue a one-time thirty-day reprieve otherwise, short of a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, his only option was to grant the reprieve or allow the execution to proceed. That’s it.

231 executions have taken place while Perry was governor. He commuted the death sentence for 31 inmates – mostly those where the defendant was a juvenile at the time of the crime.

Governor Perry followed Texas law. He has done exactly what a Texas governor is bound by law to do. Barring a recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Parole, he cannot unilaterally grant anything other than a single 30-day reprieve, at the end of which (barring a court order) the execution proceeds.

It’s one thing to be against the death penalty on moral grounds, in that case, work to change the laws. But in a nation built on laws, we are bound to abide by the law – even those we may find objectionable. When an individual has been tried in court, found guilty and exhausted all of the appeals available to them, there comes a time when the sentence must be carried out – that’s the law.

12. Perry refused to consider commuting the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia even though it had been requested by the U.N. and the White House

Humberto Leal Garcia was sentenced to death for the 1994 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. Leal, a mechanic, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, in 1973 and moved to the USA when he was two years old, but never became a United States citizen. He was an illegal immigrant.

On May 21, 1994, Leal kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered 16-year-old Adria Sauceda. Police discovered the girl’s nude body on a dirt road in San Antonio in May 1994. Evidence showed she had been gang-raped, bitten, strangled and bludgeoned to death.

She and Leal had been attending a party not far from where she was found. She became intoxicated at the party and Leal is said to have offered to drive her home. Leal carried an intoxicated semi-conscious Sauceda into his car. When Leal placed Sauceda in his car she was clothed. When Sauceda’s body was later discovered she was nude.

Leal was the last known individual to see Sauceda alive.

Official court documents state “There was a 30- to 40-pound asphalt rock roughly twice the size of the victim’s skull lying partially on the victim’s left arm; Blood was underneath this rock. A smaller rock with blood on it was located near the victim’s right thigh.” There was also a 15 inch long stick extending out of her vagina, with a screw at the end. Leal claimed that she fell and hit her head. No one was charged in the gang rape.

Among other evidence, the bite mark was matched to Leal. Her bloody blouse was found at Leal’s home, and Leal confessed to police and his brother that he had killed Sauceda.

The complaint is that even though the 38-year-old Mexican national had lived in the United States since he was 2 years old, he was not granted access to the Mexican consul prior to making incriminating statements (his confession).

In a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights asked that he commute the sentence to life in prison. “If the scheduled execution of Mr. Lea

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