Texas Governor Rick Perry has been a divisive character for much of his political career. His fans will say he’s changed the Texas economy for the better and has been a strong proponent of family values. Some critics will slate him for not being a real fiscal conservative – but an economic centrist that ends up pleasing no-one. Others may be strongly politically opposed to his ideology, and will criticize him no matter what he does because he’s too far-right for their tastes.
But now he’s announced he wont be back for a fourth time, let’s look at his Governorship from an objective stand-point – putting party politics and personality aside. We will take a look at what he’s done well, and where he could have done better. What will Governor Perry be proud of when he looks back on his career, and what are his biggest disappointments?
A long time in office
One of Governor Perry’s major accomplishments must be his long tenure. With nearly 13 years in office, he must have done something right. It’s impossible for any politician to stay in office without strong support. They may have many political opponents who intensely dislike them, but they must also have a strong following who like what they did last time around. To even get a second term in office is a big accomplishment, but to get three terms shows competence in the job. It’s a strong approval rating from the people of Texas. Texas Governor Perry is the second-longest serving U.S governor.
The local economy
Under Rick Perry, Texas public finances did not do so well, but the private sector is very strong. The Texas private sector economy is one of the fastest growing and largest in the USA. Texas remains an attractive place for business to re-locate to. Many of the tech companies that traditionally would have gone to Silicon Valley, have instead gone to places like Houston.
It’s debatable how much Governor Perry has had to do with this, but he did manage to successfully oppose a state income tax and has fought hard to keep taxes low. Which makes Texas ideal for business. Also, as the private sector grows – tax revenues have gone up. Last tax year, the State tax revenue rose by 0.4% ; which may prove to vindicate Governor Perry’s stance on taxes.
Under Rick Perry, Texas was opposed to high-taxes; but the overall tax take for the state is increasing. And although under Rick Perry, Texas State remained in debt, it’s a step in the right direction that shows that taking less is sometimes more.
Not only is this a victory for Governor Perry personally, but also a tick in the win-column for Austrian-School economists.
There’s been considerable development of the State’s infrastructure during Rick Perry’s tenure. Texas Governor Perry has directed a lot of taxpayer’s money towards improving roads and other infrastructure projects. The improvements are often evident when looking at photographs of Texas a decade ago and comparing them to Texas today. Under Rick Perry, Texas has transformed.
Not bowing to political correctness
This can either be chalked up to a win or a loss depending on where you’re coming from politically. However, we think he will personally be rather proud of sticking to his principles; however “non-progressive” they may be.
He’s certainly stuck to his guns (literally). With outspoken views on the death penalty and homosexuals in public life. At a time when the left are increasingly trying to ban firearms, he remains a proud member of the NRA with a permit to conceal carry.
As much as these things may upset those in more liberal states, they – for the most part – play well in Texas. Even if you disagree with his stance, you have to also acknowledge that he was elected and re-elected because of those views. Which essentially is what a Governor is supposed to do, reflect the views of the people who vote for them.
Under Rick Perry, Texas has remained decidedly non-PC.
And now for his failures
His presidential bid
The moment during the debate that sunk his ambitions to be president is among the most cringe-worthy moments in modern political history. When Governor Perry sees this clip on YouTube or on TV in the future – expect him to turn a nice shade of pink. Ron Paul was also clearly enjoying taunting Governor Perry during this debate. On a personal level – it’s easy to see how it could happen to anyone. Everyone forgets things – even Dr. Paul. But the fact that he took so long to admit he couldn’t remember the name of the agency he wanted to scrap is what makes the moment so farcical.
In the end though; he did admit that he could not remember. He can also console himself by knowing that it was largely a matter of personality rather than a fundamental objection to his policies that lost him the chance to become president. There will always be part of him however, that wonders what might have been had he been able to remember the name of that spaghetti soup agency.
Texas Public Sector debt
He must be disappointed that the state debt rose substantially during his tenure.
For someone who likes to be seen as a fiscal conservative – he sure spent a lot of money. Under Rick Perry, Texas public debt rose from $13 billion in 2001 to $37 billion in 2011. Governor Perry’s harshest critics will claim that this wipes out any gains he made in developing the private sector economy; because all he’s essentially done is kick the can down the road for the next governor to deal with.
Critics of Governor Perry will argue that in not raising taxes, and in increasing public spending – he was able to bribe Texas voters by avoiding unpopular decisions.
It’s certainly a mixed-bag of both good and bad. But he’s done plenty he can look back on with pride. Any embarrassment he may feel at losing his chance to become president must surely be mitigated by the fact that Texas voters kept electing him to be Texas Governor Perry time and time again.
If there’s anything Governor Perry can be really proud of, it’s that people turned up, again and again to tick the box next to his name.