As I have written before, Gov. Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, lacks a legacy, something positive for which history will remember him. Were Perry to retire today, the most enduring memory he would leave behind for the vast majority of people would be his awkward, 10second “oops” episode during a nationally televised presidential debate last fall. He and that fourletter word forever will be a comic lowlight of presidential politics.
But Perry won’t be retiring today, which means he still has time, if we let him, to complete dismantling the public school system and other essential state services. I suppose you could call that a legacy, but who would want to claim it?
Perry has been in public office for most of his adult life and most of that time has been living full time off the taxpayers. By sheer longevity, political bullying and large specialinterest campaign donors, he has turned a traditionally weak governor’s office into a force to be reckoned with. But he doesn’t govern. He panders, and he panders to the antigovernment ideologues who supposedly dislike what he embodies, a doubledipping, lobbyfed career politician with taxpayerpaid perks running out his ears.
Remember, Perry is pulling down both his $150,000 state salary and early retirement benefits worth another $90,000plus a year. He lives in a rental mansion that costs taxpayers about $10,000 a month, and his recent, inoverhishead presidential campaign cost at least $2.8 million in personal security costs for which the governor refuses to reimburse taxpayers.
Yet, there he was again yesterday, laying out a new “Texas Budget Compact,” an antitax, antispending, antipublic education, antipublic health care, antiprogress manifesto that he is urging legislators and legislative candidates to sign. It is the last thing the governor of Texas should be proposing on the heels of last year’s budget cuts and in the face of an improving state economy. Perry’s compact is reckless and harmful public policy, and it’s not good business for our economy either. But then, this is the same governor who orchestrated the budget cuts, while leaving more than $7 billion of taxpayers’ money in the Rainy Day Fund untouched.
Perry continues to pander, and, unfortunately, so will some lawmakers and candidates who will fall all over themselves to sign the worthless document. Texans deserve better, much better.