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PHOTO COURTESY WIKIPEDIA “When Washington came calling with money… he told them, `Thanks, but no thanks. We’re doing just fine without you.’ ” SARAH PALIN AT FEB. 7 PERRY RALLY IN CYPRESS PERRY’S WORLD THE REAL WORLD $14 Billion FEDERAL STIMULUS MONEY USED TO BALANCE STATE BUDGET FOR 2010-11 “…our current unemployment system provides sufficient benefits to help unemployed Texans as they pursue employment.” JULY 24, 2009 PERRY PRESS RELEASE Unemployment benefits only cover 1 in 5 of Texans who are out of work. 26 SAVED BY THE STIMULUS Rick Perry is a master of political timing. Touring the state with his NASCAR, Perry portrays himself as a regular, taxpaying Joe Six-Pack instead of a career government employee living in a $9,000 a month taxpayersubsidized mansion. As he continues to criticize the federal stimulus money, Perry spins a world where he’s singlehandedly saved the Texas economy. By the time the Comptroller delivers her revenue estimate next January telling a different story written in red ink, voters will have already made their decision. “We’ve got a governor whose message is, I don’t need help from Washington, D.C., to balance our budget because I can balance it on my own. It couldn’t be more false,” Rep. Dunnam says. “It was balanced because of the stimulus.” In fact, Texas used $14 billion of federal stimulus money to balance its budget for 2010-2011. Despite Perry’s newly minted disdain for Washington, D.C. and its $787 billion stimulus package, Texas used more stimulus money than any other state in the nation to fill its budget gap. Despite the stimulus saving Texas’s hide, Perry has built his 2010 campaign around thumbing his nose at select stimulus programs. In addition to unemployment compensation, Perry also nixed Texas’ bid for $700 million in Race to the Top educational funds. In January, he sent a much-publicized letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stating that Texas would not submit its application “In the interest of preserving our state sovereignty over matters concerning education and shielding local schools from unwarranted federal intrusion into local district decision-making.” One of Perry’s main arguments against Race to the Top was the potential loss of curriculum standards created by the State Board of Education which recently recommended cutting Thomas Jefferson from social studies textbooks because of his defense of the separation of church and state. Perry defended the controversial SBOE as he made a show of rejecting the education funding at a January press conference: “Through Race to the Top funding, the U.S. Department of Education seems to be coercing states like Texas to suddenly abandon their own locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C.” Texas also lost a bid for high-speed rail money because of a lack of leadership. While other states such as Florida worked diligently on putting together a transportation proposal for highspeed rail projects, the cash-strapped Texas Department of Transportation had no unified approach and no encouragement from the governor. In February, U.S transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, a former Republican congressman, faulted a failure of Texas leadership in securing $1.8 billion in funding. “If Texas had had its act together, it would have gotten some highspeed rail money,” he told reporters after the stimulus awards were announced to 31 other states. Instead, Texas received $4 million to rehab existing Amtrak service. The Texas Department of Transportation is in no budgetary shape to lose federal funding. In an April 2009 TXDOT letter addressed to Sen. John Carona, chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, the agency warned legislators that it will be broke by the first quarter of 2012. 10 I THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG