During the last slash-and-burn legislative session, presidential contender and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) approved draconian budget cuts for everything from education to Medicare. But one area where he didn’t mind being extravagant with taxpayer money was financing family vacations, tours to promote his book, and campaign events.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Perry used at least $294,000 of Texas taxpayers’ money for numerous personal trips, and has no plans to reimburse the state:
At a time when state budget reductions were used to help offset a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall, taxpayers were billed in excess of $294,000 in security detail expenses for out-of-state trips by Gov. Rick Perry or his wife, according to records released by the Department of Public Safety.
Destinations included the Bahamas in January for a family vacation and trips to Amsterdam, Madrid and New York by Anita Perry alone – visits that Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said were for economic development.
Perry traveled to locales including New York, Washington, California and Las Vegas for events such as promotion of his anti-Washington book, Fed Up!, speeches, duties related to his then-chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association and meetings with business leaders or potential supporters for his presidential bid.
Perry’s campaign pays for the travel costs, but the tab for his security detail is picked up by the state. Perry’s flimsy excuse for using taxpayer funds to finance these trips: “I’m going to be promoting Texas no matter where I go.” The idea that his wife was traveling in Europe to promote “economic development” in Texas is laughable.
Ray Sullivan, the Perry campaign communications director, said there are no plans to reimburse the state for these expenses. “We intend to follow precedent set by others since he’s Governor of Texas 100% of the time and as such DPS provides security. I do not expect RGA or the campaign to reimburse state security expenses,” Sullivan told the Chronicle.
During his tenure, Perry has doubled Texas’ debt and used budget gimmicks to close the state’s enormous $27 billion deficit. Perry and GOP lawmakers refused to raise taxes on the wealthy while they cut billions from public education, women’s health centers, and shortchanged Medicaid by nearly $14 billion — all while spending taxpayer dollars for trips to Europe.