Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday he’s not sure the state should accept all of its projected share of federal stimulus money — $16.9 billion and counting by preliminary estimates — because of the “mile-long” strings that might be attached.
“In Texas, we actually know it is a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth. If we don’t, we may end up with an old nag,” said Perry, who has been critical of such federal spending and voiced concern over whether the state could afford federal strings.
“One thing that concerns me is that dollars are going to come into Texas that require us to match those dollars, and then two years from now, those federal dollars won’t be there, but we will be on the hook to pay for those programs going forward,” Perry said.
According to a preliminary legislative analysis, economic stimulus provisions that affect the Texas budget could total about $16.9 billion.
Perry didn’t say which programs he was referring to, and spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said his staff still is looking over potential allocations to Texas.
One program that raised concern early on was funding for unemployment insurance that would be contingent on state changes allowing more jobless people to become eligible, Cesinger said.
Speaking of which, here's Phillip Martin on Perry's incredible short-sightedness over the program, and his flip-flopping on stimulus funds:
Key Point: a year ago, the state's unemployment fund had a surplus of $90 million. Governor Rick Perry stopped collecting the replenishment tax, and now 12 months later, our $90 million surplus is a $447 million deficit.
Governor Rick Perry is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He's spent the last three weeks railing against the bailouts, but even he recognizes that to do so is wrong. However, it's not wrong because Texas deserves its money, or because its good public policy to maximize the use of state funds. No -- Perry has only flip-flopped on his position on the bailout because it is politically necessary to do so.
In other words, when Perry wanted to make some of his business constituents happy, he stopped collecting the tax that maintains the unemployment insurance fund. After piling up a nearly $500 million deficit he re-instated it. Then, to stake out his position as a "fiscal conservative" for the 2010 governor's race race by appealing to the hardcare nuts in the GOP, he balks at taking stimulus funds. Realizing that this appears to put his political future ahead of the interests of unemployed Texans, he permits his underlings to discuss how they'd use the funds. And now he tells us that maybe Texas won't take "all" of the funds.
Whatever. Don't doubt for a second that Texas won't take all the money we can get, because we need it. It's just too bad that we have a governor who thinks he can squeeze a few political points out of it in the process, while suffering Texans wonder where their next paycheck will come from.
UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Texans alone may not be cursed with a stupid and grandstanding governor more interested in his political fortunes than his people's welfare. Apparently Jindal is also worried about the secret "strings" that may come attached to the $4 billion allotted for his poor state.