For all his talk of fiscal conservationism on the national stage, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) hasn’t been so parsimonious at home, where his state is racking up debt at a faster rate than the national government and in greater amounts than most other states. Perry regularly attacks President Obama for engaging in “too much spending” and running up too much debt, but as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mitchell Schnurman writes today, Texas’ refusal to raise taxes has led to its own debt ballooning faster than Washington’s:
From 2001 to 2010, state debt alone grew from $13.4 billion to $37.8 billion, according to the Texas Bond Review Board. That’s an increase of 281 percent. Over the same time, the national debt rose almost 234 percent. [...]
Still, the trend is undeniable. While Texas lawmakers have refused to raise taxes — and often criticize Washington for borrowing and spending — the state has been paying for much of its expansion with borrowed money.
While the state has had to borrow for infrastructure building to keep up with rapid population growth, as Schnurman points out, Texas didn’t have two wars, the budget-busting Bush tax cuts, recession-combating measurs, and other big-ticket national expenditures. And Texas’ “borrowing isn’t slowing.”
The state’s debt belies Perry’s boisterous rhetoric on his economic stewardship. While conservatives boast of Perry’s “Texas miracle,” California, which Perry often bashes as the antithesis of his approach, has seen faster GDP per capita growth than Texas under Perry. Meanwhile, Texas’ obstinate refusal to raise taxes helped create the largest budget shortfall in the state’s history, leading to devastating cuts to government services — one town had to lay off its entire police force — and Perry using budget gimmicks and federal stimulus dollars to balance his budget.