After officially tossing his cowboy hat into the 2012 presidential race earlier this month, Texas governor Rick Perry has shot to the forefront of those vying for the Republican Party nomination.
With just three weeks of being on the campaign trail, Perry has established himself as a champion fundraiser and fiscal conservative. He benefits from currently serving as governor of a state that has risen up from the ashes of the Great Recession. George W. Bush’s shadow looms over him, leaving those in the political world wondering if he is worth the attention he has garnered.
Bush “43” and Perry may have emerged from the same West Texas Dustbowl and share the same suit with boots fashion, but the current governor has made sure to distance himself from the former president without losing a critical support system.
In stride with the Tea Party and overall rightward movement of the Republican Party, Perry has governed with a conservative stance that Bush only claimed to endorse.
Bush was able to lead Texas with an across the aisle approach. Perry does not waver and is less willing to compromise. He has vetoed more bills than any other Texas governor, including the “Father’s Day Massacre” this year when he vetoed 24 in one day alone.
As Washington squabbles over how to fix the sluggish economy, the governor is using Texas’ recent job growth as an example of how he will lead the country into more prosperous times. According to the U.S. Labor Department, 47 percent of all new jobs in the nation have come from Texas since June of 2009.
Texas is a right-to-work state, which gives employees a choice of whether or not to join a union. State income tax in Texas is nonexistent. Zoning laws are looser here, helping to tamp down real estate prices. These laws attract businesses to relocate, thus creating more jobs.
However, Perry cannot take credit for all the good news.
The Lone Star State is a gold mine for the oil and gas industry. Less industrial than others, it does not feel the contractions of an economic downturn as say, Michigan.
The influx of people in Texas has attributed to the economic boom as well. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population has increased 20.6 percent in the past ten years, double that of the entire nation. The more people a state brings in, the higher the demand for services, once again creating jobs.
Despite the Perry camp’s best efforts, not all feedback from Texas is positive. This past January, state lawmakers faced $27 billion budget shortfall.
Perry and fellow Republicans refused to increase taxes, resulting in large cuts in education and healthcare. The Associated Press reports that up to 100,000 of the state’s 330,000 teachers could receive pink slips due to a significant decrease in funding.
College students are also feeling the wrath of the budget cuts. Financial aid awarded to public colleges is down 14 percent or $140 million. Those pursuing higher education will have to take out more private loans. With the current economy, it’s easy to see how that scenario will play out.
Rick Perry has a year of scrutiny until the Republican National Convention in Tampa and a possible spot on the GOP ticket. Before voters head to the polls next spring, they should take a long look at the changes he has brought to the state of Texas and decide if this is what Washington needs.