Rick Perry's Texas Fantasyland

Rick Perry's Texas is a job-makin', low-taxin' oasis of economic growth. It's also a fantasy.

In this year's legislative session, Perry proudly led the call for $5.4 billion in cuts to state support for public education, leaving the state education budget at $29 billion, according to an analysis by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before these cuts, the nonpartisan Texas Legislative Study Group placed Texas at 47th among the states in support for education and 50th in the percentage of the population 25 and older with high school diplomas.

Perry's supporters argue the cuts were necessary to deal with a two-year state budget deficit projected at $15 billion to $27 billion, depending on who's projecting. His detractors wonder why a state that's supposed to have the nation's most robust regional economy lumbers under such shortfalls. They also wonder why a supposedly healthy economy produces a poverty rate that's 20 percent higher than the national rate, according to census data released last month.

Regardless, the state's government, like state governments elsewhere, was headed for the poor farm if something didn't get cut. Perry, with strong backing from Tea Party–right majorities in both houses of the legislature, focused on public schools with a vengeance. The state cut support for schools by $500 to $700 per student and completely gutted two areas considered vital to minority student success: full-day prekindergarten and a series of grant programs for tutoring and other special support.

In championing the cuts, Perry staved off calls to take more from the state's $9 billion "rainy day" fund, which many said was established for just such a purpose. That move lent credence to critics who believe Perry's real purpose was a Tea Party–friendly "starve the beast" strategy to diminish public education as a communal responsibility.

These cuts, all so public and brash, have actually obscured from the headlines another Perry initiative that might worry the Texas business and research communities even more.

In 2008, Perry convened a "higher-education summit." At it, he unveiled his ideas to make it easier, cheaper, and faster for students to graduate from the state's top-tier universities. His "seven breakthrough solutions"—actually the handiwork of a former oilman and friend, Jeff Sandefer, who has donated $300,000 to Perry's campaigns since 2000—would forbid universities from using academic research to decide whether to grant professors tenure.

Under the plan, which is nowhere near adoption, tenure decisions would depend heavily on "customer satisfaction ratings"—grades students give teachers. A professor would have to show that he or she has been teaching at least three classes of 30 or more students every semester for seven years, earning customer satisfaction ratings of at least 4.5 out of 5 possible points.

People who feel they helped bring the Texas economy back from the debacle of 1987, even some who are friendly to Perry otherwise, are horrified by Perry's "seven points."

"To me, it's a disgrace to the tradition of scholarship and discovery," says John Sibley Butler, a professor of entrepreneurship and small business at the University of Texas at Austin and the director of an institute that studies and promotes economic growth in Texas.

Weinstein, at SMU, served as a consultant in the late '80s to cities trying to attract high-tech industry. In retrospect, he says, those glad-handing recruitment campaigns probably had less to do with drawing high-tech businesses to Texas than the presence of well-funded and prestigious academic research centers.

"I think more of that has come about as a result of the research that occurs in a place like the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, which is one of the largest medical complexes in the country," he says. "UT Southwestern has probably generated a lot of spin-off activity and attracted a lot of health-care companies to the region."

For all Perry's Texas swagger, there are simply ways in which he doesn't get Texas, says Texan Terry Sullivan, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina. "The reason we don't have kudzu in Texas is because researchers—not teachers but researchers—at Texas A&M University know how to stop that stuff," says Sullivan, a national fellow of the Hoover Institution who is executive director of the White House Transition Project and author of The Nerve Center: Lessons in Governing from the White House Chiefs of Staff. "The reason our cattle are more productive in Texas even though they live on really crappy land is because researchers, not teachers, at Texas A&M discovered how to make cattle stronger.

"For somebody to think that major state universities like Texas A&M should focus on teaching and not research is to grossly misunderstand the importance of fundamental research to the economy of the state of Texas.

"So if a governor's only claim to fame is his ability to improve the economy of Texas, and he doesn't get that, then there must be a critical difference between how the Texas economy got where it is and that governor's role in it."

If the state's relationship with education and research has appeared a little schizoid—Here, take the money; no, give us back the money—what effect has all of that had on the hardiness of the overall Texas economy? It's hard to draw direct links, but the available studies suggest it's not nearly as robust as Perry depicts.

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13 comments
Crazyyy_Girls_90
Crazyyy_Girls_90

@money......This is crаzy...Sistеr's girlfriеnd mаkes 73 hоurly оn the PC. Shе hаs bееn firеd frоm wоrk fоr 11 mоnths but lаst mоnth her pаychеck wаs 7756 USD just wоrking on thе PC for a fеw hоurs. Rеаd аbоut it on this wеb sitе......http://alturl.com/nguui

Mr B
Mr B

Significantly, TexASS and AlASSka are the two biggest welfare receiving states in the Union. Naturally, both are Republican.

Perry objected to President Obama's stimulus program but eagerly took a huge check from the Federal government in order to lessen the state's deficit. But anyone who knows Repukeblican politricks would not be surprised at that.

Community Organizer
Community Organizer

I find it impressive that Gov. Rick Perry can somehow convince people to get off their azz and go to work for low pay, rather than just remain at home collecting welfare at taxpayers expense.

Well Done!

Shaun Costello
Shaun Costello

PERRY AND GOP HOPEFULS CRAWL ON KNEES BEFORE RELIGIOUS FANATICS - BEGGING FOR APPROVALIt's a sad commentary to the state of our Republic, that these GOP Presidential hopefuls feel the need to come crawling before a gathering of Evangelicals in the hope of gaining approval and support. Evangelicals, most of whom seem to have one foot in a staight jacket, have taken over the selection process for the Republican Party. This is exactly the kind of political mayhem that Jefferson warned us about, and took action to prevent. The nominee of the Republican Party has to cowtow to religious fanatics in order to get nominated. The Evangelical agenda includes; the reversal of Roe v Wade, prayer in public schools, the end of stem cell research, making homosexuality a crime, and legislating a National Religion - theirs. Oh, and influencing Cabinet appointments. For Secretary of State - how about Robert Tilton, or Jimmy Swaggert, or Pat Robertson, whichever one of them isn't under current indictment for tax fraud. The clock is ticking for the Christian Storybook. Only right wing America takes them seriously. The rest of the world is laughing.Read this:http://shauncostello.wordpress...

Strelnikov
Strelnikov

I don't feel Perry will make it....from what I can tell, the GOP has two "finisher" candidates, one they want, the other the base wants. The Central Committee's man is Mitt Romney; the average GOPster seems to want Ron Paul. We will see if the "Paultards" win.

All that written, this is a good article on how much of a BS artist Rick Perry is, and how Texas is trying to catch up to California.

mrearlygold
mrearlygold

perry is just another necon scumbag.

Vote Ron Paul in 2012 or more of the same. If you like what the country has become elect another democrat or republican. If you desire real freedom and real opportunities, rally behind Ron Paul who is as close to a founding father as we're ever going to see. Time is running out!

DonnaThompson
DonnaThompson

..........I can't believe....My best friend's mom makes $77 an hour on

the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month

her check was $5487 just working on the computer for a few hours.

Read about it here CashMany.com .......

Debra2
Debra2

Well... some GENERAL comments...I didn't vote in the last general election. I decided that the American public was not voting for a president ; it was choosing a King.Barack certainly got that feeling too, given the way he has been behaving recently.In about ten years of work against the death penalty, I noticed that increasingly, the FEDERAL courts were bending farther and farther backwards to insist on STATE'S RIGHTS.After a while, the inevitable conclusion is that the union has fallen apart, is falling apart ?When you're IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, just how do you know ??I call the country "the disunited states" these days. Rick Perry is championing a bunch of disgruntled people (but shouldn't we ALL be disgruntled these days, the decadence goes far beyond American borders, you know, to touch Western civilization as a whole) who somewhat confusedly perceive that the long, slow rise of scientific rationalism that began during the Renaissance has FINALLY run out of steam, and is not FUELING our desire for hope/faith now. It has petered out.It kind of puts things into perspective when you try to remember that the U.S. was founded as a European UTOPIAN experiment. The United States was SUPPOSED to be pie in the sky. If that isn't a Messianic proposition, I don't know what is.I can forgive Rick Perry for sounding irrational these days when it is hard to know which side is up in our culture.As for the jobs... when the Industrial Revolution got revving, there were small numbers of people in England who RIGHTLY perceived that those AUTOMATIC machines would destroy work that would probably NOT BE REPLACED. They were called Luddites, and THEY started destroying the machines. They were brutally repressed.MORE JOBS for MORE PEOPLE is part of the underlying expansionist logic that fuels the consumer/industrial society.We need NEW ATTITUDES towards work, and the lack of it at the time.We need to think beyond that old Protestant work ethic that was part of our utopian identity.CAN WE DO IT ? ....

Guest
Guest

I double-posted THAT?

Alexgunther
Alexgunther

Democrats who can't find anything good about our current situation in this country have no other choice but to try and convince everyone that the presidential options for 2012 are ......gasp! Even worse! you chose Obama, he lives in a fantasy land that is drowning in more debt with less jobs than 3 years ago!

Joseph
Joseph

Refuting the economists professors claim that Texas is business friendly with uncredited statements like "Does saying that Texas is "business-friendly" mean the state is unlike the rest of the country in some significant way, something important enough to make Texas more prosperous than America? Academic studies and the testimony of people involved in shaping the state's economy say no." makes this article come off like a hit piece.

President Perry
President Perry

Texas is a fantasyland because we seceded from Heaven. We're goin' back soon as the oil runs out. @PresPerry

 
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