A few facts about Rick Perry’s Texas

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Perhaps inevitably, due to overall GOP discontent with their crop of presidential candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has thrown his Stetson into the ring. Perry enjoys popularity among the American Right, who often cite his record as Texas governor as the way forward. However, a closer examination of Texas under Rick Perry ought to give any American a shudder.

Perry and his supporters like to tout his record of job creation in Texas. Granted, 38% of American jobs created since 2009 have been in Texas, but that hardly tells the whole story.  In fact, unemployment under Rick Perry has actually increased from 4.3 percent in 2007 to 8.3 percent in 2011. This is due to the fact that, while Texas has created some jobs, it has failed to keep up with its own population growth. It is behind 25 states in terms of unemployment.

Additionally, a good chunk of the jobs that Perry touts are very low-paying jobs. In fact, 10 percent of all workers in the state are paid at or below the state's minimum wage. This statistic ties Texas with Mississippi as the states with the highest percentage of workers at the minimum wage level. The number of minimum wage jobs in Texas has jumped 150 percent since 2007.

Texas also lags behind in wage increases. Between 2007 and 2011, the average wage per worker has increased 5 percent in the United States, 9.3 percent in California, and 2.5 percent in New York. In Texas, the average wage per worker increased a paltry .06 percent.

Perry likes to use his condemnations of the federal government's debt and spending as applause lines. However his track record on Texas's debt tells a different story. Texas's public debt increased from $98 billion in 2001 to $216 billion in 2011, and the solidly Republican state's debt has actually increased faster than the U.S. national debt in the same period. Currently, Texas is looking at a $25 billion shortfall on its $95 billion two-year budget.

Despite his claims that "Texas has the best health care in the country," a quarter of all Texans lack health insurance - well above the national average of 15.4 percent.  In fact, 13 of Texas's congressional districts are in the nation's bottom 30 in regard to rates of insured citizens. Additionally, Texas has one of the nation's most restrictive Medicaid thresholds, including denying access to impoverished people who are childless.

Education is another area where Rick Perry has nothing to brag about. Contrary to his claims that Texas has the highest SAT-taking rates in the nation, it ranks only 22 of the 50 states. Even less impressive: Texans have the fifth lowest SAT scores of all the 50 states, and the state is the third least literate. It also ranks 43rd and 50th respectively, in high school graduation rates and the percentage of residents 25 and older with a diploma or GED.

Perhaps this may be due to Texas having the 47th lowest spending rate on education in the nation. Either way, these woes aren't likely to improve with Perry's $10 billion cut to education in his recent budget. Perry also rejected $830 million in federal aid to Texas schools. Why? Because after he used $3.2 billion in stimulus funds targeted at schools to instead plug up his budget (and his reputation), Democrats from Texas inserted special language to prevent Perry from doing so again.  

Not surprisingly, Perry clings to abstinence-only sexual education for Texas students. Despite evidence to the contrary, Perry claims that "abstinence works," citing his "personal life" as evidence. By 2009, over 94 percent of Texas school districts had adopted abstinence-only sexual education. This education included curriculum emphasizing that birth control is ineffective, contrary to the facts. These programs combine an overemphasis on sexually transmitted diseases and death with Christian views of morality. Many public school districts use handouts containing Bible verses as part of their sexual education.

What are the results? Texas has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. In fact, pregnancy rates under Perry have skyrocketed, and are now over 50 percent higher than the national average. Even more alarming: Texas has the highest teen repeat pregnancy rate as well as the third highest rate of youths with HIV.

Perry, like many of his Republican colleagues, is an avid climate change denier and invokes the idea of a science conspiracy, claiming that is part of some "secular carbon cult." Perhaps this is due to the $11 million Perry has received in campaign contributions from the oil industry since 1998. Not surprisingly, the state of Texas is also the nation's largest polluter and is fighting against the Environmental Protection Agency's attempts to curb its excessive culture of pollution. Perry is most upset about the EPA's rejection of his state's "flexible permit" policy which would cut costs to polluters at the expense of the environment.

Rick Perry and his record are often touted by conservatives, who are likely filled with glee now that he has entered the presidential contest. However, based on his record as Texas governor, what could we expect from a Perry presidency besides: low paying jobs, higher teen pregnancy and STD rates, declining education standards, creationism in the curriculum, state-sponsored prayer, and more pollution?

Photo: Gage Skidmore CC 2.0

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  • thanks ryan for telling the truth about Texas - lots of us in Texas campaigned against Perry in the last election - but he raised unprecedented millions from rich folks and corporations - working people in Texas didn't support Perry, but we don't have millions of dollars

    Posted by Susan-Texas, 08/21/2011 6:50pm (3 years ago)

  • It's amazing that the population in the state of Texas is over 25 million, and this is one of their best qualified presidential candidate? However he's still the Governor, so obviously he's got skills cause he's got 11 million dollars in campaign contributions. He sure fooled a lot of people in Texas.

    Posted by mike, 08/21/2011 12:31am (3 years ago)

  • right on!
    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by jim lane, 08/18/2011 5:02pm (3 years ago)

  • Dear Texas,

    Please, do all the rest of us a favor and secede!

    Posted by Irving, 08/18/2011 4:03pm (3 years ago)

  • All of these Republican candidates (Jon Huntsman not withstanding) all tow the same line "cut, cut, cut, w/ no shared sacrifice, I am a disabled Veteran (a former Marine) & agnostic, I don't need potential Presidents telling them that "God" told them to run, & that taxes are completely off the table even a "10 to 1" ratio, I seved my Country,I EARNED my V.A. check, these repupublicans want to "cu" everything & leave hurting Americans, whether impoverished, veterans or retired out in the cold, you created this mes, Le's clean it up!

    Posted by Jason Duffy, 08/18/2011 2:49pm (3 years ago)

  • Well, once again a writer (?) here has taken a few facts and skewed them to his/her liking. Perry isn't perfect, by any means, and living in Texas myself, I know first hand what kind of leader and person Perry has shown himself to be...I'm not so sure I'll vote for him, myself. But that doesn't mean that false representation is the right way to go.
    There's so much wrong with this article I don't know where to being, but a few things are universal to most everything you've mentioned, so I guess I'll start there.
    Texas has the most illegal immigrants over any of the other 49 states in the Union. This accounts for many of the figures you've mentioned here. Much of the resources of healthcare and education go to these peoples, and that differs much of the lower poverty and related statistics. It accounts for the lower wages, the difference in employment, etc. Before you jump onto me, remember that these figures are showing that jobs are being given to people even though they aren't "documented", but that skews the statistics when only "documented" workers and their stats are allowed to be included. Much of our healthcare AND education is funded by means other than funds that many states use, so you're comparing apples and oranges.
    I'm not crazy about Perry, but I believe we could do worse.
    I would suggest......again...... that you get your information with ALL of the data and not just pick and choose that which serves your agenda. This site is so bad about doing that!
    Pancho, go back and look. Most of the jobs Perry created wer within the government, not in the private sector. Therefore he can state that he has increased employment, but he doesn't say WHERE. You need to go back and check your facts, just like this author.

    Posted by Gene, 08/18/2011 12:00pm (3 years ago)

  • We need another Texas governor as President like we need additional holes in the head.

    Please no more of these extreme right wing religious fundamentalists. I don't think we will survive another one.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 08/18/2011 11:53am (3 years ago)

  • I wonder if you guys realize that collectivism is in complete contrast with liberty, or is that a pesky fact you smart Marxist patriots have yet to piece together.

    Posted by gmoney, 08/17/2011 7:13pm (3 years ago)

  • Rick Perry's views are so ridiculous .... it is actually laughable in this day and age.

    Posted by 2011, 08/17/2011 2:29am (3 years ago)

  • What you stated is true. I live in Texas and have seen major cuts to social services that assisted the aged, the disabled and the poor. As a result of these cuts, about 10,000 state workers will be laid off. I have also seen the public school budget cut so badly that around 100,000 school workers will be laid off! How is that beneficial to school children and the state of Texas overall?

    Perry has left the state a disaster. He has aligned himself with the religous right, but is very popular with young, conservative professional types who despite their education remain in the lower depths of "just plain stupid!"

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 08/16/2011 2:52pm (3 years ago)

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