Rick Perry's Love/Hate Relationship With the Stimulus

Perry campaigns against the 2009 law now, but Texas used the money anyway

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Rick Perry kicked off his presidential campaign Saturday by taking a shot at "Washington's insatiable desire to spend our children's inheritance on failed 'stimulus' plans and other misguided economic theories have given us record debt and left us with far too many unemployed." The Texas governor says the country is "fed up with bailout after bailout and stimulus plan after stimulus plan," in his 2010 book, too. But Perry didn't always hate the stimulus so much, the Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports.

Texas relied on President Obama's $787 billion package, passed in 2009, to plug big holes in the state budget, Ramsey explains:
Through the second quarter of this year, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money -- including $8 billion of the one-time dollars to fund state expenses that recur over and over. In fact, Texas used the federal stimulus to balance its last two budgets.
It is true, as presidential candidate Perry says, that the state turned down some of the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 because it had strings attached. Texas didn't apply for education grants that came with conditions, and the governor famously refused $556 million in federal stimulus funds for the state's unemployment insurance program, saying the conditions that came along with the cash would increase the long-term costs of the program.
But Texas happily accepted the rest. 
Even though it didn't have to!
Of course, they could have tapped the state's Rainy Day Fund. ... At the time state lawmakers were wrestling with paying down the 2008-09 deficit and facing an even bigger shortfall in the 2010-11 budget, the Comptroller of Public Accounts estimated that about $9.1 billion would be available in the Rainy Day Fund. Instead, lawmakers used federal dollars.
Read more on the complicated relationship here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.