Perry Bailed Out His Own Failed Agriculture Jobs Fund

Since he’s attempting to run on his record as a job creator in Texas (even though he thinks government can’t create jobs), GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry (R-TX) has repeatedly pointed to a jobs fund that he administered as proof he knows how government can help the business sector. Perry’s jobs fund — known as the Texas Enterprise Fund — not only hasn’t created the number of jobs that Perry says it has, but is basically a slush fund for him to dole out money to companies that donated to his campaigns.

But that wasn’t the only fund that Perry ran during his time in Texas politics. As agriculture commissioner in the 1990s, Perry oversaw a loan guarantee program meant to spur agribusiness. As the Austin American-Statesman noted, the program was so woefully mismanaged that it had to be bailed out…by Perry himself, once he assumed the governor’s office:

Over his eight years as Texas’ farmer-in-chief, Perry oversaw a loan guarantee program with so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to startups in agribusiness and eventually bailed out the program with taxpayer money. […]

By 2002, Perry’s successor, Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, a Republican, stopped making loans as the percentage of bad loans neared 30 percent.

By 2009, her successor, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, also a Republican, asked the Legislature to pay off the loan guarantees with a $14.7 million appropriation. The finance authority could no longer afford the $541,000 to cover the annual interest on the bad debts, almost all of which dated back to Perry’s tenure…In effect, Perry, as governor, signed his own government bailout when he approved the 2009 appropriations bill.

Eventually, “twenty-nine of 102 guaranteed loans defaulted,” and “the majority of the original $25 million [in loan guarantees] — $14.7 million — was bad debt.” And this is hardly the only instance of fiscal mismanagement under Perry’s tenure. After all, he doubled Texas’ debt and then balanced its budget through accounting gimmicks for the current budget cycle (after using stimulus money last cycle).