Why Didn't Rick Perry Attend Governors Conference?

Gov. Rick Perry in his office at the Texas Capitol for a round of press interviews on Feb. 21, 2012.
Gov. Rick Perry in his office at the Texas Capitol for a round of press interviews on Feb. 21, 2012.

Hey, Texplainer: Why did Gov. Rick Perry opt out of the National Governors Association conference last weekend? 

The National Governors Association winter conference wrapped up on Monday after three days of meetings and a White House dinner with President Obama. Notably — and reliably — absent? Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has led the Republican Governors Association but thinks the national group is a waste of time and cash. 

It wasn't Perry's first time to skip out. He decided not to be a member of the NGA in 2002, one of his staffers said, because dues cost about $135,000 at the time. Other Republican-led states have made the same call, including Idaho and Ohio and, most recently, Florida.

Some Republican governors showed up for part of the conference but made what could be construed as political stands. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley avoided most of the weekend events except for those put on by the Republican Governors Association. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has had no warm words for Obama lately, made headlines for skipping the White House dinner over what she called prior commitments, according to USA Today

But a Democrat or two skipped, too. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo avoided this year’s confab in favor of local politics, addressing the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials.

Perry missed a message on Monday that could've been fine-tuned for Texas, after the $4 billion cuts to education in the state's last legislative session.

“Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state as the decisions you make about where to invest,” Obama told governors. “Budgets are about choices, so today I’m calling on you to choose to invest more in teachers, invest more in education, and invest more in our children and their future.”

Bottom line: Perry is one of several Republican governors to disassociate from the national group, in a move that is part penny-wise, part political. 

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