Rick Perry's Cover-Up and Corruption: Texas' $25 Billion Budget Shortfall

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Ed. Note: This is the tenth and final part of a ten-part wrap-up of Rick Perry's history of cover-up and corruption that will run on Burnt Orange Report today.

There has not been a bigger or more important cover-up this election cycle, and perhaps for decades in Texas, than Rick Perry's refusal to come to grips and be honest about the $25 billion budget shortfall facing the state of Texas. Our state's budget crisis is going to devastate the future of our economy for years, if not longer, unless Texans do something about it immediately.

For months, Rick Perry has done his best to cover-up the state’s $25 billion budget shortfall, which is now “proportionately larger” than California’s. From the Dallas Morning News, “Legislature likely to cut deep to meet possible $25 billion budget gap.”

Texas faces a budget crisis of truly daunting proportions, with lawmakers likely to cut sacrosanct programs such as education for the first time in memory and to lay off hundreds if not thousands of state workers and public university employees.

Texas' GOP leaders, their eyes on the Nov. 2 election, have played down the problem's size, even as the hole in the next two-year cycle has grown in recent weeks to as much as $24 billion to $25 billion. That's about 25 percent of current spending.

The gap is now proportionately larger than the deficit California recently closed with cuts and fee increases, its fourth dose of budget misery since September 2008.

In recent months, Perry has been wildly erratic about the amount of the budget shortfall, at times saying it is nothing to worry about and only $10 billion large, and other times suggesting it is a major financial crisis that could be $21 billion large. When Bill White and Texas lawmakers requested the Comptroller to provide updated revenue estimates, Perry insisted on covering-up the budget projections and called the simple request for taxpayer transparency “bizarre.”

Perry has been quick to blame Washington and the national economic environment for the state’s budget shortfall. The Austin American-Statesman, however, has pointed out repeatedly that such a claim is highly disingenuous, in a column, “Budget mess got going with 2006 property tax cuts“:

The economic downturn isn't helping the shortfall, but it's not driving it, either. The driving factor is a decision by Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature in 2006 to reduce property taxes by $14 billion every two years and raise only about $9 billion to replace that money. In other words, the Legislature committed $5 billion every two years to holding down property taxes instead of spending that money on education, public safety or other priorities. Then the state's new business tax brought in drastically less than projected, and that $5 billion gap turned into a nearly $9 billion gap.

Additional Sources – Austin American-Statesman

Additional Sources

About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

4 Comments

  1. This is likely
    one of the biggest reasons why Rick Perry was too chicken to debate Bill White and why he avoided all editorial boards at all costs.  If Mr. Perry has any fancy ideas about running for U.S. President he'd better get ready to stick himself under a laser focused microscope, something that Texas Republicans have not made him do. Slick Rick can run but he cannot hide from who he is and what he has and has not done.    

  2. Oh well
    So much for the conservative talking point “liberal states like California have massive deficit problems.”

    This looks more like a “big state” problem rather than a left-right problem.

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