Ed. Note: Post updated at 11:53am.
We've documented Perry's outspoken opposition to the stimulus package. However, as I wrote about this morning, Perry started hedging his bets over the weekend -- trying to cover his tracks by having the Texas HHSC and Education Commissioners talk about the stimulus funds and how they planned to use them to address issues that the state's budget leaders -- Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus -- are too weak to deal with.
Key Point: a year ago, the state's unemployment fund had a surplus of $90 million. Governor Rick Perry stopped collecting the replenishment tax, and now 12 months later, our $90 million surplus is a $447 million deficit.
Well, today, Perry tried to walk back his remarks. From the Statesman:
Gov. Rick Perry said today he will gladly accept federal stimulus dollars for one-time expenses, but he’s not anxious to embrace dollars for recurring state expenses.
“We need the freedom to pick and choose,” Perry told a group of small-business leaders in Austin. “We need the freedom to say, ‘no thanks’ if they’re trying to stick a bill on the people of the State of Texas just to expand government.”
Governor Rick Perry is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He's spent the last three weeks railing against the bailouts, but even he recognizes that to do so is wrong. However, it's not wrong because Texas deserves its money, or because its good public policy to maximize the use of state funds. No -- Perry has only flip-flopped on his position on the bailout because it is politically necessary to do so. According to Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken -- from Quorum Report (subscription required):
He said the federal government was putting the states in an impossible position: turn down the money and stand accused of insensitivity to laid-off workers or put employers in an untenable position once the stimulus money is spent.
Governor Perry, realizing that Texas voters would see his politics for what they are and call a spade is spade, has real worry to be viewed as being insensitive to workers. He is. He always has been. The news appeared last week in the Monday Memo to the House Democratic Caucus just how badly Governor Perry screwed up the unemployment funds in Texas:
Rick Perry and the Unemployment Fund
Upon hearing the news that the Comptroller was predicting a $9.1 billion drop in revenue, Governor Perry's reaction was to increase the shortfall by calling for more tax cuts. This is right in line with what he has done with the State's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.
A year ago, the Unemployment Fund had a surplus of $90 million. In a shortsighted and politically expedient move, Governor Perry halted collection of the replenishment tax. Nearly 12 months later, Governor Perry reinstated the replenishment tax. Now the Unemployment Fund faces a $447 million deficit.
Hiding behind failed leadership and misinformed policies, Texas' struggling economy is entirely a product of Perry's failed leadership.
Even his current position -- take one-time federal funds but opt out of funds that would have "strings" attached -- is purely a way to protect profits for his large business buddies. Those "strings" Governor Perry is upposed to includes allowing unemployed workers to receive their compensation benefits.
Governor Rick Perry is all over the map on the stimulus package -- and now he's taken to whining about the politics of it all. Perry should make up his mind -- either play politics with the stimulus package, or focus on the policy. But he can't complain just about the politics he doesn't like -- at least not with Texas voters recognizing his positions for the hypocritical lump of lies that they are.