Perry Decries Runaway Spending In Washington But Lobbied For More Federal Aid to Texas

Aug 17, 2011 1:52pm

ABC News' Amy Bingham reports:

Rick Perry has been publically and vocally anti-Washington spending throughout his political career, but behind the scenes the Texas governor has fought for federal money from the big government he so staunchly opposes.

Multiple times over his 10 years in office Perry has directed lobbyists to persuade federal lawmakers to divert funds to the Lone Star state, all the while decrying the federal government’s interference in state politics.

"We are fed up with bailout after bailout and stimulus plan after stimulus plan, each one of which tosses principle out the window along with taxpayer money,” Perry wrote in his 2010 book Fed Up!

But a 2005 report by the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations shows that the Texas governor did not pass up  opportunity to bring millions of federal dollars to Texas.

While Congress was debating changes to prescription drugs under Medicaid in 2003, Texas lobbyists, under Perry’s direction, secured an extra $47.5 million to help Texas pay for the health care costs undocumented immigrants, Time reports.

And again in 2005, lobbyists fought to bring $200 million back to the Texas school system for No Child Left Behind implementation.

Perry’s campaign spokesman Mark Miner told Time that the governor had to “prioritize and make tough decisions,” some of which included taking federal money to fund things that Washington should already be doing.

“Many of the issues Texas and other states have to deal with, like border security, are the result of a federal government that has failed in its responsibility,” Miner said.

While Perry has called the stimulus “failed” and “misguided,” he used the billions of federal dollars that have flooded into Texas from the Recovery Act to plug budget shortfalls over the past two years. Since 2009 the Lone Star state has received more than $20 billion in stimulus money.

In 2009 Tea Partiers praised Perry for rejecting about $555 million in federal aid for unemployment benefits because he said there were too many strings attached. In order to receive the money states had to expand benefits to people seeking part-time jobs, which Perry said would raise taxes.

"It seems really unreasonable that the federal government would require a change in state law as a condition of accepting these funds," Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said at the time, according to USA Today. "The governor's main message is Texans who hire Texans drive our state's economic engine, and the last thing we need to do is burden them with higher taxes."

The $555 million he rejected represents about 2 percent of the total Recovery Act dollars Perry has accepted.

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