Give Rick Perry credit — he's made Texas #1 yet again, this time for being the top state to mooch national stimulus funds to plug budget shortfalls.
That's right — Rick Perry not only took Federal stimulus money, but also used it to plug 97% of the 2010 budget shortfall.
But wait, didn't we all just spend 6 months of our lives listening to Rick Perry go all Yell Leader on the soundness of the fiscal state of Texas?
Thanks to a report released by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, we now know that Perry was the most dependent on his own personal Federal bailout to rescue our state. From CNN:
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. Texas, which crafts a budget every two years, was facing a $6.6 billion shortfall for its 2010-2011 fiscal years. It plugged nearly all of that deficit with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act money, allowing it to leave its $9.1 billion rainy day fund untouched.
Perry, of course, campaigned heavily against Federal funds. As you may recall, back in February 2009 on the very same day he asked President Barack Obama for the money, Pery started an online petition against “Government Bailouts” against the “irresponsible spending that threatens our future.”
Quick on the draw as always, the math-and-facts-adverse Perry administration immediately denied using stimulus funds to plug the hole in the budget.
A governor's spokeswoman played down the money's role in shoring up Texas's finances. “Texas would have balanced its budget regardless of the presence of stimulus dollars,” said Lucy Nashed, Perry's deputy press secretary. “This money came from the pockets of Texas taxpayers, and we are committed to getting our fair share of these dollars, which would have otherwise been disbursed to other states.”
No! That's exactly what did not happen, Lucy! Just because the Legislature is in session, that doesn't make every moment until sine die opposite day! Perry balanced our state's budget by begging for Federal money to make ends meet. Otherwise we would have been short $6.4 billion dollars.(Math! It doesn't lie! It's not a Republican candidate for the Legislature!) Perry himself continues to completely deny that he needed Federal stimulus funds to plug 97% of the budgetary shortfall in FY2010. As quoted last week:
“We don't have shortfalls in Texas,” Perry told reporters last week. “You prioritize what's important in this state. We will fund those.”
Evidently our priorities are taking Federal tax dollars to balance the budget, rather than asking Texans to pay for what we need. Of course this year, there is no stimulus money to ride to the rescue, so our priorities are instead going to have to shift over to harming children and the elderly with brutal budget cuts.
Interestingly, this story's starting to get serious traction. And not just in the so-called “liberal media.” I picked up on this story from Business Insider, which has been following the Texas budget crisis for some time. As Joe Weisenthal (himself a Longhorn alum) asked-and-answered earlier this year:
So why haven't we heard more about Texas, one of the most important economies in America? Well, it's because it doesn't fit the script. It's a pro-business, lean-spending, no-union state. You can't fit it into a nice storyline, so it's ignored.
Looks like it may not continue to fly under the radar much longer… Especially with the severe budget cuts about to be handed down by the Republican legislature.
But you know what they say — everything's bigger in Texas! Especially the relative size of the hole in the budget plugged by the Federal money requested by the Governor who campaigned against it. (Is that too wordy for a tee shirt?)