Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Texas Guv to Illinois: Stop Reckless Spending on Social Programs

Perry's Tribune editorial makes his priorities clear

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Failed presidential candidate and current Texas governor Rick Perry has some advice for the state of Illinois: stop caring about your people so much.
    That’s the only conclusion one can draw from an editorial Perry wrote in today’s Chicago Tribune. Perry, who’s on a multi-year national tour to help steal jobs away from other states for his home state of Texas, felt compelled to lecture Illinois about what it’s doing wrong in keeping its fiscal house in order. The Trib balanced Perry’s missive with a rebuttal by Illinois governor Pat Quinn.

    For years, Perry has been gallivanting around the country, touting something he likes to call the “Texas Miracle.” It goes something like this: get government out of the way through lower taxes and less regulation, and corporations will celebrate by hiring new workers by the boatload.
    Perry points to his state’s record of job growth as proof of the wisdom of his policies. In the Trib editorial, Perry says that over the past decade, Texas added more than 2 million jobs and grew jobs at a rate of 3.4 percent over the past year—fastest among the biggest states in the country. By contrast, he points out Illinois lost 7,000 jobs in the same period.
    It’s a story Perry’s been telling everywhere he goes. But take a closer look at his words, and it’s clear Perry isn't only interested in job numbers as he lectures other states. What really concerns the three-term Republican is, well, basically Obamacare and social spending.
    It’s right there in the piece in today’s Trib. Perry says that for a Texas Miracle to happen in Illinois, the state must “accept that government should limit itself to core functions. When government takes over huge segments of the nation's economy, as the Obama administration has done through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, it's a recipe for disaster.”
    That’s right. Spending taxpayer dollars on taking care of the people in your state that need help is a “disaster.”
    Perry goes on to say that spending on programs such as Medicaid expansion will “lead to higher costs for states already struggling to meet budget demands and will crowd out other essential government functions.”
    What other “essential government functions” may be involved, Perry doesn't say. But you can rest assured those functions involve making sure corporations are given every advantage while the needy in Texas are given the short end of the stick.
    After all, it’s no secret Texas leads the nation in the number of its citizens that don't have health insurance—a fact directly related to Perry’s decision to opt out of the Affordable Care Act for his state.
    As well, 27 percent of Texas children were living in poverty in 2011, a rate that put the Lone Star State among the nine worst states in the country.
    The statistics go on and on. Texas has only 70 active primary care physicians per 100,000 people, ranking it 47th among 50 states. Texas banned any health care provider with ties to abortion services from receiving Medicaid funds. In 2013, Perry pushed the state legislature to cut $5.4 billion in education funding. He even cut funding for firefighters at the same time the state was battling record fires.
    Of course, the governor made sure Texas was first in line when it came to corporate welfare. Under Mr. Perry, Texas gives out more corporate incentives than any other state, around $19 billion a year.
    Apparently, that all gives Rick Perry the authority to tell other governors how to run their states, even as he tries to steal their workers and companies with promises of lower taxes and a more “friendly” business climate.  
    Illinois may not be in the best fiscal health, but at least it’s citizens aren't being shoved off a cliff simply so corporations can have an easier time to make a profit.
    Thanks for your advice, Mr. Perry. But there’s a reason why Illinois isn't like Texas.