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The national folks notice Texas’ budget situation

You’ve probably seen this by now, but just in case you haven’t, here it is.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to tell Washington to stop meddling in state affairs. He vocally opposed the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program to spur the economy and assist cash-strapped states.

Perry also likes to trumpet that his state balanced its budget in 2009, while keeping billions in its rainy day fund.

But he couldn’t have done that without a lot of help from … guess where? Washington.

Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

We here are all familiar with the details, but it’s nice to see it get some play in the outside world. Three points to make:

1. The story does not mention the structural deficit caused by the 2006 property tax cut, which was supposed to be paid for by the business margins tax (among other things) but has not been. It’s easy to blame the economy for the dire straits we now face, and to be sure that’s a significant part of it, but Rick Perry and his buddies blew a multibillion dollar hole in the finances five years ago, and they still haven’t done anything about it. That cannot be emphasized enough.

2. I still don’t know what to make of Perry’s supposed national ambitions. I just don’t see how he gets elected President, and it’s not really clear to me how he’s an asset as a VP nominee either, but I’ll admit to a certain myopia on the topic. That said, a story line like this, coupled with subsequent headlines about 100,000 teachers getting laid off if there are no significant changes to the budget, just don’t seem like they’d play well in Peoria. How exactly is this a model for the rest of the country to follow?

3. I will always wonder how things might have played out if Perry really tried to block the stimulus money, and not just the relatively paltry amount for unemployment insurance, in 2009. No pain in 2009 meant no real counter to Perry’s ludicrous claims about how good things were around here. You could argue that in more ways than one, Barack Obama was the single biggest reason Perry got re-elected.

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3 Comments

  1. Matt Bramanti says:

    “but Rick Perry and his buddies blew a multibillion dollar hole in the finances five years ago, and they still haven’t done anything about it.”

    Don’t worry, Charles. We’re about to make large cuts to state spending to fix it. Personally, I put the blame (credit, really) on Texas homeowners like us, who take great pains to keep their tax burdens as low as possible, lest a little extra fall into the public trough.

  2. You’re so cute when you’re trying to be clever, Matt. You’re like Whited’s little brother.

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