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Governor of Texas[edit]

Rick Perry touring Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas, on August 28, 2004

Perry assumed the office of Governor in late 2000, following the resignation of President-elect George W. Bush.[1] He won the office in his own right in the 2002 gubernatorial election, where he received 57.80% of votes to businessman Tony Sanchez's 39.96%.[2] He was re-elected in the 2006 gubernatorial election against three major opponents, polling 39% of votes against runner-up Chris Bell with 29.8%. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Perry became the first Texas governor to be elected to three four-year terms, polling 54.97% of votes to Bill White's 42.48%.

In the 2001 legislative session, Perry set a record for his use of the veto, rejecting legislation more than any other governor in any single legislative session in the history of the state since Reconstruction.[3] Although he was more conservative with the veto in later sessions, he had used the veto 273 times as of 2011, more than any other Texas governor.[4][5]

Fiscal policies[edit]

In his presidential campaign, Perry has highlighted the economic success Texas achieved under his governorship, although the true success of his policies has been questioned.[6][7][8][9][10][11] A proclaimed proponent of fiscal conservatism, Perry has often campaigned on job growth and tax issues, such his opposition to creating a state income tax. Perry refused in 2002 to promise not to raise taxes as governor, and in the following years did propose or approve various tax increases.[12][13][14][15] In 2009, however, Perry signed Grover Norquist's pledge to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes".

In 2003, Perry signed legislation that created the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has since given $435 million in grants to businesses. The New York Times reported that many of the companies receiving grants, or their chief executives, have made contributions to Perry's campaigns or to the Republican Governors Association.[16]


As Governor, Perry has been an outspoken opponent of federal health-care reform proposals and of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, describing the latter as "socialism on American soil".[17]

During Perry's governorship, Texas rose from second to first among states with the highest proportion of uninsured residents at 26%, and has the lowest level of access to prenatal care.[17] Perry and the Republican-led state legislature have cut Medicaid spending; a 2008 request by Texas to cut benefits further was denied by the Bush administration, which said there was no precedent for such limited coverage.[18] Texas ranks next-to-last among states in terms of affordability of health insurance.[19] Perry's office has argued that Texas represents a model private-sector approach to health-care. His spokeswoman stated that "Texas does provide an adequate safety net to those truly in need... and many individuals simply choose not to purchase healthcare coverage."[19]

Perry has supported tort reform to limit malpractice lawsuits against doctors, and as lieutenant governor he had tried and failed to limit class action awards and allowing plaintiffs to allocate liability awards among several defendants. In 2003, Perry sponsored a controversial state constitutional amendment to cap medical malpractice awards, which was narrowly approved by voters.[20]

Perry is pro-life and has signed multiple bills creating new rules or restrictions for abortion procedures and funding for such.[21][22] These bills include a May 2010 law requiring that a sonogram be performed prior to every abortion, and that the practitioner discuss the sonogram images with the patient except in limited cases where the patient may waive the explanation.[23][24][25]

In February 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating that Texas girls receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against some strains of the human papilloma virus, a contributing factor to some forms of cervical cancer.[26] Following the move, news outlets reported various apparent financial connections between Perry and the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck.[26][27] Merck's political action committee has contributed $28,500 since 2001 to Perry's campaigns.[28] The order was criticized by some parents and social conservatives, and a lawsuit was filed later that month.[29] In May 2007, the Texas Legislature passed a bill undoing the order; Perry did not veto the bill, saying the veto would have been overruled, but blamed lawmakers who supported the bill for the deaths of future cancer victims.[30]


Perry grew up in the Methodist church and, until 2010, attended the same church that George W. Bush attended in Austin.[31] In 2006 Perry stated that he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and that those who don't accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell. He later clarified, "I don't know that there's any human being that has the ability to interpret what God and his final decision-making is going to be."[32] In his 2008 book On My Honor, Perry expressed his views on the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. "Let's be clear: I don't believe government, which taxes people regardless of their faith, should espouse a specific faith. I also don't think we should allow a small minority of atheists to sanitize our civil dialogue on religious references."[33] In June 2011, Perry proclaimed August 6 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting, inviting other governors to join him in a prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association in Houston.[34][35] The event was criticized as going beyond prayer and fasting to include launching Perry's presidential campaign.[36]

Perry has called himself "a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect", and has expressed support for its teaching alongside evolution in Texas schools, but has also said that "educators and local school officials, not the governor, should determine science curriculum."[37]


Perry has repeatedly attacked the Robin Hood plan to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. In 2005, following rejection of Perry's proposal to replace the Robin Hood plan, Perry vetoed all funding for public schools for the 2007–2008 biennium, saying he would not "approve an education budget that shortchanges teacher salary increases, textbooks, education technology, and education reforms. And I cannot let $2 billion sit in some bank account when it can go directly to the classroom."[38] Following a second rejection of Perry's bill, Perry asked John Sharp to head a task force charged with preparing a bipartisan education plan, which was subsequently adopted.[39][40]

As of 2011, Texas still ranks at the bottom of many educational indicators. Compared with other states, Texas has the lowest percentage of adults with high school diplomas.[41][42] Detractors including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncanhave criticized Perry regarding Texas schools' performance and class size.[41][43][44]

In 2001, Perry expressed his pride in the enactment of the statute extending in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who meet Texas' residency requirements. It also required the undocumented students to pledge to apply for permanent residency or citizenship if this became a possibility for them.[45]


Perry's campaigns for lieutenant governor and governor focused on a tough stance on crime. He has supported block grants for crime programs.[46]

Perry supports the death penalty.[47] In June 2002, he vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates. [46]As of August 10, 2011, Texas has carried out 234 executions since Rick Perry became governor.[48] Cases in which Perry has been criticized for his lack of intervention include those of Cameron Todd Willingham, Frances Newton, and Mexican nationals José Medellín and Humberto Leal Garcia.[49][50][51][52]

Perry did commute the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, who was convicted of murder despite evidence that he was only present at the scene of the crime. Perry also pardoned Tyrone Brown, who was sentenced to life in a Texas maximum security prison for smoking marijuana while on probation. Perry's actions in both these cases were following the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.


In 2001, Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a $145+ billion-dollar project that would build multi-lane highways, rail lines and data lines from Oklahoma to Mexico, and from east to west in southern Texas. Instead of paying for the project with taxes, Perry proposed that it be partially financed, partially built and wholly operated by private contractors, who would subsequently receive all toll proceeds.[53] All of Perry's gubernatorial opponents opposed the corridor project, as did the 2006 state party platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties.[54][55] After much contentious debate between supporters and opponents, an official decision of "no action" was issued by the Federal Highway Administration on July 20, 2010, formally ending the project.

Gun ownership[edit]

Perry has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.[56] He possesses a Concealed Handgun License (CHL)[57] and has signed a number of bills that increased CHL access.[58]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference bio was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference 1994 General Election was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "The Executive Branch: Budgetary Powers", Texas Politics, University of Texas at Austin, retrieved June 20, 2011
  4. ^ "The Limits of the Veto", Texas Politics, University of Texas at Austin, retrieved June 20, 2011
  5. ^ Aaronson, Becca (June 17, 2011). "Vetoes — Then and Now". The Texas Tribune. Austin. Retrieved June 20, 2011.  Unknown parameter |separator= ignored (help)
  6. ^ Luhby, Tami (August 12, 2011). "Rick Perry and his Texas jobs boom: The whole story - Aug. 12, 2011". Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "West Texans React to Perry's Presidency Run". Odessa, TX: KWES-TV. August 13, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Lone Star Jobs Surge". The Wall Street Journal. June 10, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  9. ^ Plumer, Brad (2011-07-28). "Breaking down Rick Perry's 'Texas miracle' - Ezra Klein". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Rick Perry's four economic vulnerabilities - TODAY News -". Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ The Texas Unmiracle By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, August 14, 2011
  12. ^ Gleckman, Howard (August 16, 2011). "Rick Perry's Changing Take On Raising Taxes". Forbes.
  13. ^ "The Texas pole tax". The Economist. January 3, 2008.
  14. ^ "Gov. Perry Signs Landmark Business Tax Reform" (Press release). Office of the Governor. May 18, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  15. ^ "New Texas Margin Tax – Business or Income Tax". August 16, 2006. Retrieved August 18, 2011
  16. ^ Perry Mines Texas System to Raise Cash, by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Lu, New York Times, August 20, 2011
  17. ^ a b Sack, Kevin (September 3, 2011). "G.O.P. Candidates' Stances on Health Care Mask Their Records as Governors". New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ Kliff, Sarah. "Perrycare 101: Rick Perry’s Medicaid record." The Washington Post, August 15, 2011.
  19. ^ a b Levey, Noam (September 8, 2011). "Texas healthcare system withering under Gov. Perry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph. "Malpractice Suits Capped at $750,000 in Texas Vote" New York Times September 15, 2003
  21. ^ "Rick Perry Gets A Grade on Abortion From Texas Pro-Life Groups". 2011-06-10. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  22. ^ July 21st, 2011 (2011-07-21). "Texas Gov. Rick Perry Signs Bill De-Funding Planned Parenthood". Catholic Tide. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  23. ^ Texas House passes abortion-ultrasound bill without exceptions | AHN
  24. ^ Democrats derail sonogram bill, at least for a day
  25. ^ "Texas Gov. Rick Perry Signs Ultrasound Before Abortion Bill". 2011-05-20. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  26. ^ a b Carney, Timothy (June 21, 2011) "Rick Perry's mixed record on regulatory robbery", The Washington Examiner
  27. ^ Peterson, Liz Austin (February 22, 2007). "Perry's staff discussed vaccine on day Merck donated to campaign". Austin American-Statesman. Associated Press. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  28. ^ Mason, Melanie. "Rick Perry understated drug company campaign cash." Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2011.
  29. ^ "Texas Families Seek to Block Gov's Order". Newsmax Media. Associated Press. February 25, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  30. ^ MacLaggan, Corrie (May 9, 2007). "Perry lets HPV bill go into law". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  31. ^ Cite error: The named reference Statesman was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  32. ^ Hoppe, Christy (November 6, 2006). "Perry believes non-Christians doomed". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on November 19, 2006. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  33. ^ Perry, Rick (2008). On My Honor. Macon, GA: Stroud & Hall Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 0979646227. 
  34. ^ Perry, Rick (June 6, 2011). "Gov. Perry Declares August 6th a Day of Prayer". Office of the Governor. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  35. ^ Perry Bacon Jr. and Nia-Malika Henderson, Texas Gov. Rick Perry to host major prayer event in Houston Washington Post, August 5, 2011.
  36. ^ Fikac, Peggy (August 19, 2011). "Email on voting prompts questions about Perry prayer event". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  37. ^ "2010 The Vote: K-12 Education". San Angelo Standard-Times. September 11, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Press Release] Gov. Perry Says Legislators Must Come Back, Get School Funding Right". Office of the Governor Rick Perry Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  39. ^ [1][dead link]
  40. ^ "Gov. Perry's Principles For A Stronger Texas" (PDF). Office of the Governor - Rick Perry - Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  41. ^ a b 'Texas on the Brink' counters Perry's depiction of state | News | News from Fort Worth
  42. ^ Reaching out for help | children, health, medicaid - Top Story - Brownsville Herald
  43. ^ Big Country superintendents critical of academic rankings » Abilene Reporter-News
  44. ^ Talev, Margaret (August 19, 2011). "Arne Duncan Says Perry's Schools Left Behind". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  45. ^ Perry, Rick (August 22, 2001). "Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks to the Border Summit". Office of the Governor. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  46. ^ a b "Public Notes on 01-NGA10". 2001-09-14. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  47. ^ Thomas, Evan (2007-11-10). "Injection of Reflection". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-06-22.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  48. ^ "Texas Set Today to Execute 234th person under Governor Rick Perry". Texas Moratorium Network. August 10, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  49. ^ "From arson to politics: Why has Texas's governor derailed a death-penalty investigation?". The Economist. October 22, 2009. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  50. ^ Grann, David (2009-01-07). "Cameron Todd Willingham, Texas, and the death penalty". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  51. ^ "Frances Elaine Newton #982". Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  52. ^ Graczyk, Michael (July 8, 2011). "Criticism of Texas' execution of Mexican Leal doesn't bother Perry". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  53. ^ "Trans-Texas Corridor: FAQs". Texas Department of Transportation. 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  54. ^ "2006 State Republican Party Platform" (PDF). Texas Republican Party. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  55. ^ "2006 Texas Democratic Party Platform" (PDF). 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  56. ^ "Rick Perry's unwavering support for gun rights could boost his presidential prospects". Nra-Ila. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  57. ^ "'Wily' coyote no match for governor's gun". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  58. ^ "Gov. Perry Signs Bills to Protect Gun Owners' Rights". Office of the Governor Rick Perry - Retrieved August 14, 2011.