Despite frequent calls to tighten the federal purse strings, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has requested and received billions of dollars in federal aid during his tenure in the Texas governor’s mansion, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Those requests include $24.2 billion in stimulus funding that came as Perry lambasted the law that would provide the money; more than $100 million to protect against drug violence and illegal immigration on the U.S. border with Mexico; and various aid dollars to help Texas deal with natural disasters. The AP found that Perry has requested money 1,180 times since 2001, a rate of one request about every four days.
The governor also asked the federal government to bail out two Texas-based airlines, American Airlines and Continental, in April 2003.
The wire service obtained its information from an analysis of documents obtained through a state Open Records Act request.
“Perry stands out for the vehemence and frequency of his rhetoric that government programs are threatening the nation’s future. He also stands out for getting an especially large share of the benefits,” the AP writes. “During his tenure, Texas has ranked in the top quarter of states in federal funds received per capita, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
The money amounts to between 29 percent and 35 percent of the Texas state budget between 2000 and 2009, and near 40 percent in fiscal year 2010 due to stimulus funding, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board. By comparison, state budgets nationwide contained 26 percent to 29.5 percent federal dollars in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, and 35 percent in 2010.
Perry's campaign responded by noting that Perry refused to apply for $700 million in federal stimulus education grants that he said had too many conditions, and rejected about $556 million for the Texas unemployment insurance program.
“When it comes down to what their core responsibilities are, you bet we’re going to try to hold them accountable and ask them for everything that Texans deserve,” Katherine Cesinger, a campaign spokeswoman, told the AP.