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How Perry's Four-Point Economic Plan Compares to His Record

Gov. Rick Perry has returned to Austin after two days of campaigning in Iowa, where he again touted his "four principles" for economic growth. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune looks at how the governor's plan stacks up against his record.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry greets an Iowa voter at a GOP event in Greene County.

DES MOINES, Iowa — New numbers released Friday showed Texas shedding 1,300 jobs in August and unemployment rising to 8.5 percent. The governor hasn’t addressed those numbers yet, but while he made the rounds in Iowa on Friday, he pulled out some oft-repeated references to the Texas job boom and again laid out his four-point plan for economic growth.

But how does Perry's plan stack up against his record?

Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News

"Principle No. 1 is, don't spend all the money."

Perry has talked up his influence in pushing the Texas Legislature to balance the state budget and leave about $6 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. But lawmakers are bound by the Texas Constitution to pass a balanced budget, and across-the-board cuts this year slashed funding for everything from public education to women’s health programs to mental health services. 

As for the money left in the Rainy Day Fund, even Republican budget-writers have admitted that much of the fund will be spent on the current budget when lawmakers return to Austin in 2013.

“Principle No. 2 is have a tax policy in place that doesn’t put undo burden on the job creators.”

The governor’s campaign literature highlights state cuts in taxes for small businesses and more than 60 bills Perry has signed that have cut taxes. Under the governor’s leadership, however, lawmakers expanded the state’s business tax.

“Have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable.”

The governor often says this as he attacks what he calls the federal government’s “one size fits all” regulations.

“And have a legal system in place that doesn’t allow for oversuing.”

Perry calls frivolous lawsuits “job killers.” And while he was governor, he helped the push through legislation revising medical liability rules. Conservatives call it tort reform, and Perry claims it drew 21,000 doctors to Texas. The Texas Medical Board puts that number closer to 13,000 — a figure PolitiFact has found aligns with increases based on population growth alone.

On the trail, Perry has said that Texas, following these four principles, has created 40 percent of all the new jobs in the U.S. since June 2009. That’s true. But many note that these jobs haven’t been economy drivers.

“And so that’s really the reality," said Don Baylor of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. "There are a lot more fast food outlets in Texas than there were five years ago, and so those jobs typically start at the bottom of the wage scale.”

Baylor said population growth accounts for most of the service-sector job creation and for an increase the number of teachers, police officers and doctors in the state.

For now these principles are grabbing headlines and revving up crowds. But eventually, Perry’s opponents may start demanding specifics, and he’ll have to explain how he plans to turn the Texas job boom into one for America.

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